GOP govs of Vermont and New Hampshire seek trade approval

WOODSTOCK, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s Republican Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday he thinks the proposed new trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico will benefit Vermont and the region and he urged Congress to approve it.

Scott made the comments a day after he wrote an opinion piece with his GOP colleague, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, urging Congress to put partisan differences aside and pass and the U.S. Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The agreement would replace the quarter-century old North American Free Trade Agreement.

Scott said he was critical of the Trump administration when officials were negotiating the new trade deal, but he thinks the final deal is best for the region.

“When they finalized the agreement, the USMCA, with Mexico and then with Canada, it seems as though it’s a fair agreement,” Scott said. “I think it actually tips the scales in favor of Vermont and the U.S. in general over the other countries, but... they have accepted it.”

Trade with Canada has always been critical to Vermont, New Hampshire and the rest of New England.

Last year at a meeting in Stowe of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, Scott and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant signed a resolution highlighting the benefits of cross border trade. In it, the governors and premiers acknowledged the economic interdependence across the region and contribution of cross-border trade to their states’ and provinces’ economic prosperity.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration appear to be making progress toward a deal that would clear the way for Congress to approve the USMCA. Democrats want the agreement to include stronger protections for workers and the environment and to protect people from high drug prices, but they appear to be nearing an agreement.

In their op-ed piece, Scott and Sununu said the USMCA was critical to helping Vermont, New Hampshire and all of New England, which rely heavily on trade with Canada.

The new agreement will expand the economic relationship between New England and Canada. “It brings a much needed 21st Century update to our economic trade,” they wrote.

Scott, who has been a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, said he viewed himself as “the umpire who makes the calls.”

“Sometimes I’m critical of the administration,” Scott said, “but... I think this is an opportunity for us to come together and to finalize this and not politicize this and take it up in Congress and pass it.”