Pence to talk NAFTA replacement in Southeast Michigan Wednesday

By: - April 23, 2019 12:04 pm

Vice President Mike Pence and Mrs. Karen Pence disembark Air Force Two at Osan Air Base, Thursday, February 8, 2018, and are greeted by First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-Nam and his wife, in Seoul, South Korea. | Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen via Flickr Public Domain

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will visit Michigan on Wednesday to push a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) replacement plan, according to his office.

Pence is set to speak at an event in Romulus for President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and then tour a Dearborn Ford Motor Co truck plant. Afterward, he will deliver remarks on the new trade agreement at Motor City Solutions in Taylor, according to a schedule from Pence’s office.

The tour comes as Trump and Pence push a new trade deal to replace NAFTA. Trump’s new plan, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), is expected to slightly boost the U.S. economy overall, according to a report from the U.S. International Trade Commission.

According to the Trump administration, the USMCA would create “a more level playing field for American workers” through “improved rules of origin for automobiles, trucks, other products, and disciplines on currency manipulation.”

The president’s office also says it would benefit farmers, digital trade and provide other benefits to the economy.

Trump talked up the USMCA to various governors during a February White House meeting the day after the 2019 Governors’ Ball. The president and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also discussed trade policy while sitting next to each other at the state dinner.

But the NAFTA replacement plan may face major hurdles in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she will not consider Trump’s a new plan until Mexico implements labor law reforms, Politico reported.

Pence visited Michigan during the 2016 Trump campaign. Michigan has become a key swing state in the 2020 presidential election, as Trump won the state over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) campaigned earlier in April in Warren at the Macomb Community College, where Trump held a March 2016 rally before winning the GOP primary. Other Democratic contenders, including U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), also have stumped in Michigan.

Trump in Grand Rapids
President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Van Andel Arena on March 28, 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grand Rapids was the final city Trump visited during his 2016 campaign. | Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Last month, Trump held a re-election rally in Grand Rapids, where he promised to retain $300 million in Great Lakes funding, as the Advance reported. His administration had originally proposed to cut that money.

At the rally, Trump touted his administration as taking “historic and dramatic action to save the American auto industry and to defend American auto workers right here in Michigan.”

He again bashed NAFTA, calling it “one of the worst trade deals in the history of the world” and said the USMCA is “very good if the Democrats want to raise their hand. It’s a hard thing for them to give us a victory.”

Advance reporter Nick Manes contributed to this report.

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Michael Gerstein
Michael Gerstein

Michael Gerstein is a former Advance reporter covering the Governor's office, criminal justice and the environment.