Congressman Brad Wenstrup joined President Trump and key members of Congress at the White House Wednesday to witness the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA).
A member of the House Ways and Means Committee, whose primary jurisdiction is over trade issues, Wenstrup (R-OH) told The Times-Gazette the trade deal will enable farmers and small and medium business owners to have greater access to both the Canadian and Mexican markets.
“It’ll be great for our district, especially where dairy, wheat and poultry are big items, and I expect it to be of great benefit for all of our agricultural exports,” Wenstrup said.
He said the new agreement will provide more predictability and certainty for farmers when it comes to trade with both nations, and added that an entire section focuses specifically on the needs of small and medium-sized businesses which make up 98 percent of the nation’s exporters.
“We have a lot of small businesses in the second district,” he said. “The agreement streamlines some of the customs procedures and also addresses online sales and digital trade, which was never really addressed with NAFTA because the world has changed a lot since then.”
NAFTA, which refers to the North American Free Trade Agreement, was passed in 1994, and in recent years had come under heavy criticism as the cause of job losses in the United States.
Wenstrup said another huge benefit to Ohio will come from its manufacturing base, since he said the Buckeye State is already a big producer of iron, steel and rubber products which directly contribute to the automotive industry, and that Mexico and Canada are Ohio’s two biggest customers.
The biggest winners from the passage of USMCA, he said, will be the farmers that he referred to as “the true patriots” who endured much of the trade challenges and uncertainties that led up to the new agreement.
“They always told me ‘we’re with the president if we can get a better deal,’” he said. “They said they would ride this out, and believe me, they have, and now that we’ve got this done, it’s going to be of great benefit to them for a long, long time.”
To the small business owner in Greenfield and the farmer trying to make ends meet on a family farm near Lynchburg, Wenstrup said passage of the new trade agreement was a win for them so “they can now produce more product and be able to more easily sell it.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.