Texas delegation should support NAFTA update

March 27, 2019

Texas’ congressional delegation should be unified in its support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

To undermine this much-needed update to the North American Free Trade Agreement is to undermine Texas. The Lone Star State is the nation’s leading export market, and has benefited from free trade with Mexico and Canada.

Political temptation to oppose the deal will run high with some Democrats, who control the House. The motivation will go something like this: Why give President Donald Trump a win?

There are plenty of reasons. Despite the rhetoric coming from Trump, NAFTA has been marginally good for the U.S. economy, providing a modest boost to gross domestic product, per the Congressional Research Service. It’s likely helped keep manufacturing jobs in the United States that otherwise would have moved to Asia.

Texas exported about $315 billion in goods in 2018, and the state’s top trade destinations were Mexico and Canada.

The update to NAFTA isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough. It opens Canada’s dairy markets, updates e-commerce and places a greater emphasis on North American vehicle production, particularly in the United States.

But lawmakers in Canada and Mexico have said they will not approve the agreement unless Trump lifts tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products. Trump has also said he will unilaterally kill NAFTA if his update isn’t approved.

Cooler heads need to prevail. The tariffs should be lifted. These are our allies. The U.S. economy is strong at the moment. Unemployment is at 3.8 percent. Wages are improving. Inflation is in check. The last thing our economy needs if for the USMCA to be the victim of politics, and then have NAFTA end. The Texas delegation can set the right tone with bipartisan support of this trade agreement.