Advance Notice: Briefs

Levin, Slotkin, Tlaib say USMCA must be rebooted

By: - June 26, 2019 9:35 am

President Trump delivers remarks with, Canadian President Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at the signing the USMCA trade agreement on the margins of the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 30, 2018. | State Department photo by Ron Przysucha via Flickr Public Domain

Three members of Michigan’s congressional delegation are among the signatories to a letter urging the rewrite of a North American trade agreement. 

Freshmen U.S. Reps. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) joined more than two dozen of their freshman colleagues in pushing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to reopen negotiations on the proposed U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

Elissa Slotkin's ceremonial swearing in
Elissa Slotkin’s ceremonial swearing in, Jan. 13, 2019, Lansing | Andrew Roth

The House members have a slew of concerns with the agreement as currently proposed. Chief among them is that they view the trade agreement as “essentially NAFTA 2.0,” referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement which was signed in 1994 and is widely perceived as contributing to the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing. 

President Donald Trump has blasted NAFTA as a bad deal for the United States and ran, in part, on overhauling such trade agreements. 

But the lawmakers say Trump’s proposal doesn’t do much better and the negotiations need a reboot to address what they see as fatal flaws.

“If Mr. Trump is unwilling to tackle the major flaws of what he has called ‘the worst trade deal in history,’ his trade deal won’t be any better,” Levin said in a statement. “To end the steady flow of U.S. jobs to Mexico, to prevent corporations from outsourcing pollution and to keep the price of prescription drugs from skyrocketing even higher, Ambassador Lighthizer must reopen the agreement.”

Levin expressed similar concerns with the USMCA in an interview with the Advance last month. 

Levin: USMCA doesn’t protect workers’ rights, American manufacturing

The letter to Lighthizer has the support of Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, one of the country’s largest labor unions. Trumka recently held town halls on NAFTA in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. At the Troy event last week, the union head said the AFL-CIO would oppose the USMCA if it came to the U.S. House for a vote without changes, the Detroit Free Press reported. 

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) also has expressed concerns with the USMCA as proposed, although she was not a signatory to the letter to Lighthizer.  

“We need to see Mexico do more to ensure there’s enforcement, that there’s accountability for the enforcement,” Dingell told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo earlier this month.

“When we have that accountability, when we know they’re going to enforce it, then [this agreement] becomes OK,” Dingell continued. “The votes in the House are not there until these changes take place.”

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.

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