More than a quarter-century ago, the North America Free Trade Agreement was signed in San Antonio. The innovative trade deal made sweeping changes to the way we do business with our northern and southern neighbors by giving us duty-free access to Mexican and Canadian markets. It also gave the I-35 corridor a starring role in North American trade.
By virtually any measure, NAFTA has been a huge success, leading to more than triple the trade with Mexico and Canada since it took effect. During that time, though, a lot has changed. Back then, the internet was in its infancy, smartphones didn’t exist, and the only shopping you did was at brick-and-mortar stores. The way we do business has evolved significantly, and the once-revolutionary policies of NAFTA can no longer keep up.
More than a year ago, President Donald Trump reached a deal with the leaders of Mexico and Canada to bring our trade into the 21st century, and this month, it received the green light from the U.S. Senate. With strong bipartisan support, we passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which will take bold steps to modernize our trade with our northern and southern neighbors, and continue the prosperity Texas’ economy has experienced through NAFTA.
Since the deal was announced, I’ve heard from countless Texans about the need to get the USMCA ratified, and some of its most vocal supporters are here in San Antonio. Community leaders, including elected officials, business owners and local Chambers of Commerce, have been clear: We need the USMCA.
This trade agreement preserves the hallmark provisions of NAFTA, while making changes to account for our ever-evolving economy. The USMCA includes strong protections for intellectual property, which is critical to safeguarding the incredible innovation we see at home. It cuts the red tape that has prevented small businesses from tapping into foreign markets. And it accounts for e-commerce and digital products as these products continue to make up a larger portion of our economy.
Some of the most significant changes will provide serious benefits to the auto industry. For cars to be imported duty-free, the original NAFTA required at least 62.5 percent of the parts automakers used in their vehicles to be North American-made. The USMCA will increase that threshold to 75 percent by 2023. It’s a huge incentive for automakers to keep manufacturing and jobs right here in Texas, rather than sending them overseas.
The USMCA will also protect market access for the agriculture industry, which experienced tremendous growth in exports under NAFTA. We have more farms and ranches than any other state, and the annual economic impact of Texas agriculture totals about $100 billion. The USMCA will build on NAFTA’s success, and ensure Canada and Mexico remain our top customers for agricultural products. It’s expected to lead to a $2.2 billion increase in U.S. agriculture and food exports, and we’re sure to reap many of those benefits here in Texas.
Texas has the 10th-largest economy in the world, and is the engine behind much of our country’s trade. In 2018, we exported more than $137 billion in goods and services to Mexico and Canada, and with the passage of the USMCA, that number is expected to go up.
Experts say the USMCA will lead to increased wealth for the United States and 176,000 new American jobs. It’s expected to have a positive impact on every industry sector of the U.S. economy and result in an increase of more than $33 billion in exports. It’s a sign of even more good news to come for our national economy.
I was proud to vote in support of the USMCA, and I’m eager for this agreement to finally take effect. Less than three weeks into 2020, we’ve already notched a major win for Texas farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and consumers.
More than 27 years after NAFTA was signed in San Antonio, the Alamo City and the rest of Texas can once again celebrate the start of a new chapter in North American trade, this time through the USMCA.