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Senator Lankford Supports Passage of USMCA Trade Agreement in Senate Finance Committee

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today attended the Senate Finance Committee’s executive session markup of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is the next step in finalizing the USMCA after its consideration and passage in the House late last year. The implementing bill was approved by the Committee with Lankford’s support in a vote of 25 to 3. Lankford provided remarks about the finalized negotiations at today’s hearing.

Beginning in May 2018, Lankford joined a letter to US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to urge him to consult with Congress to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into what would become the USMCA. In July 2018 and June 2019, Lankford questioned USTR Lighthizer in Senate Finance Committee hearings to further consider the USMCA. Lankford also recorded two episodes (Episodes 2 and 8) of his podcast, The Breakdown with James Lankford, covering trade negotiations and the USMCA.

Transcript

About three years ago President Trump announced that he was going to revisit NAFTA. A lot of folks around the country that had benefited from NAFTA long term looked at it with a little bit of a nervous eye. NAFTA has put, for the last 25 years, a really good playing field for having low or no tariffs across North America. What we have seen is billions of dollars of trade in Canada and Mexico being by far our largest trading partners. Over the last two and a half years the Trump Administration, through their negotiations and through a lot of word through the media of back-and-forth of what’s going to happen or what’s not going to happen at the end of the day, have actually locked in a trade deal. It is a bipartisan trade deal. It is a message to every other country around the world that the United States is going to be a tough trading partner to be able to get into negotiations, but at the end of it, we want to get into an actual trade deal and to get something signed and done.

My conversations with the President over the last two and a half years have circled over and over again, ‘Is your goal to have high tariffs or is your goal to have low or no tariffs?’ And again and again, he has repeated to me privately and again and again he has stated in different ways publicly, his goal is to get to low or no tariffs so that we can open up trade. But it has to be a fair process at the end of the day.

This revision of NAFTA gets us back to an agreement with Canada and Mexico that gets back to low or no tariffs across North America. It takes the vast majority of the existing zero-tariff treatment from NAFTA, forwards that, and deals with some of the issues that we’ve dealt with in Oklahoma for a long time, like wheat. When you drive across the western and northern part of my state, you see beautiful wheat fields. Those beautiful wheat fields feed our kids, feed our families. But when they go into Canada, Canada has a different way of grading that wheat that drops the price there and has been a problem for Oklahoma farmers for a very long time. This deal finally deals with the wheat issue that we’ve had in Oklahoma for a long time with NAFTA.

This deals with digital trade, it deals with intellectual property. It deals with multiple other updates to agricultural goods like dairy, eggs, and poultry. Things that are exceptionally important that finally get resolved. So there’s a lot of good that’s in this. I’m glad they’ve kept a lot of the things that have been beneficial in NAFTA in the past and have done a sufficient update to this in the days ahead because it desperately needed an update. And after two and a half years of consternation across the country of, ‘Will we actually get a trade agreement done?,’ we’re actually getting a trade agreement done. And I hope it sets a platform for every other country negotiating with us to say, ‘We actually want to get trade agreements done and to get everyone to the table and get something finalized.’

So with that I thank the Chairman. There’s a lot of this that I would have done very, very differently, but I am glad that we are sending a message worldwide that we are open to trade again.  

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