WASHINGTON — The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to move the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act, or USMCA, closer toward a vote on the Senate floor.

The committee voted 29-2 in favor of the trade agreement between the three North American countries in a deal that is being called the “New NAFTA” or “NAFTA 2.0.”

“... very soon, we hope the Senate will be able to vote on the floor and put this landmark accomplishment on the president’s desk,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The agreement protects e-commerce, intellectual property and environmental protections.

“Protecting intellectual property has greatly advanced this USMCA agreement, allows for enforcement on the border for both sides on intellectual property,” said Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., after the committee vote.

USMCA includes provisions to deter online piracy, extends the minimum protections of industrial designs to 15 years and ensures a 10-year data protection period for agricultural chemicals.

Intellectual property protection provisions have been a hot topic in trade, especially in regard to dealing with China.

“In the USMCA they’re good, in the China deal it’s the first step. China has been unwilling to do anything with intellectual property until now,” said Lankford.

The first paragraph of a China trade deal signed by President Trump and China’s Vice Premier Liu He on Wednesday morning detailed intellectual property protections. Paragraphs and subsections map out deterrents and mechanisms to report theft of trade secrets, respecting copyrights, patent terms and beef up border security.

Additionally, the new trade deal with China is set to total $200 billion in Chinese purchases within a two-year window that closes on Dec. 31, 2021. Using 2017 purchase numbers as a baseline, purchases by China of U.S. agriculture goods will increase by $12.5 billion in 2020 and further to $19.5 billion in 2021. Some of the key commodities purchased are expected to be pork, soybeans and poultry.

In regard to agriculture and USMCA, the deal is expected to help expand exports in several areas, including, wheat, pork, poultry, dairy and soybeans.

“All ag benefits from it (USMCA) because it provides stable marketing in North America. There’s been uncertainty in the market for the last couple of years at this point, so everybody benefits from it, but wheat is the biggest beneficiary,” said Lankford.

In the past, Canada has marked U.S. wheat exports at a lower grade compared to Canadian wheat. USMCA ensures downgrades will not continue, which could lead to more profit for Oklahoma farmers. Additionally, the agreement will help the pork industry that has been a target of Mexican tariffs.

“The other big beneficiary for the USMCA is actually pork, because there’s been a lot of retribution I should say in tariffs on it, and where the Mexicans have targeted specifically as been the pork area,” said Lankford. “While wheat we get to expand into a market, in pork we get to stabilize that market in Mexico.”

Canada and Mexico are the two largest buyers of American agriculture products as they combine for nearly 65% of total U.S. agriculture exports. Additionally, the neighboring countries are major trade partners with Oklahoma as the state exported $2.4 billion in goods and services in 2018.

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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