You and I know just how important trade is for our area.

From the farmers and ranchers who work to feed the world, to our manufacturers who build airplanes and products that are shipped globally, the 4th District of Kansas is well-equipped to do business domestically and internationally.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trade supports 400,000 jobs in Kansas. 108,000 of those jobs are from exports worth $17 billion. Total exports from south central Kansas are worth $7.1 billion and support 40,000 jobs.

We have the resources. What we need is access to global markets.

That’s why I support the USMCA – the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – which revises the aging NAFTA with an agreement that is better for Kansans and better for our country. I’m encouraging my colleagues to act swiftly on the new USMCA agreement.

Since its adoption, NAFTA was beneficial to this district, especially our farmers, ranchers and aerospace manufacturers. Canada and Mexico are Kansas’ top export markets worth $4.4 billion. However, the more than 20-year-old agreement was outdated and in bad need of reform and modernization.

As a fierce advocate for free and fair trade, I believe a trade agreement with our countries to our north and south is imperative for Derby and south central Kansas.

However, trade that is both free and fair is key: Free trade that allows us to export our quality agriculture and manufactured goods around the globe, and fair trade that enables us to do so at a fair price and without intellectual property infringement. We need both.

The USMCA accomplishes those goals. It encourages U.S. manufacturing by requiring 75 percent of auto content be produced in North America. It incentivizes higher manufacturing wages, requiring 40 to 45 percent of auto content be made by workers making at least $16 an hour. For agriculture, it provides new access for U.S. dairy, eggs and poultry and sets unprecedented standards for agricultural biotechnology.

The USMCA has a 10-year protection on intellectual property and knocks down barriers to transferring data and technology across borders. It also sets the most comprehensive environmental obligations of any U.S. trade agreement.

Like other trade agreements, crafting the USMCA was not easy. I applaud the Trump administration for bringing Mexico and Canada to the negotiating table. While I believe barriers to free trade like tariffs should never be the final desired outcome, farmers and manufacturers I talked to throughout our district agreed that negotiating with strength could accomplish better trade deals that our country deserved. The USMCA reflects that.

Once the International Trade Commission provides their scorecard on the agreement, the USMCA could come before Congress for approval as early as April 21. Throughout the coming weeks, I look forward to working with President Trump and my colleagues in Congress to ratify the USMCA. As we also turn our focus to improving trade relations with China and other countries, I believe the USMCA can create a template for success and begin a new chapter for Kansas goods and America’s economy.

It’s critical that we get the best deal for Kansans and our country. The USMCA is that deal.

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