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Buchanan Opening Statement at Hearing on Enforcement in the New NAFTA

May 22, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Vern Buchanan (R-FL) delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee Hearing on Enforcement in the New NAFTA.

Before the start of today’s hearing, Rep. Buchanan and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the Committee, sent a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).  CLICK HERE to read the full letter.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing on enforcement in the USMCA, our new and improved trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.  I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the many strong provisions in the agreement as well as the need for effective enforcement of all those ambitious provisions.  Today’s topic is bipartisan, and I hope that we will avoid the harsh political rhetoric we see too often in Congress. And thank you to all of the witnesses for taking the time to share your perspectives with us today. 

“At the outset, I note the significance of our trade relationships in North America.  Two-way trade with Canada and Mexico already totals nearly $1.3 trillion per year.  My home state of Florida annually exports over $12 billion of goods and services to Canada and Mexico, supporting over 700,000 jobs.  These are massive trade relationships, and the stakes are high for us to make sure we obtain the full benefit of the bargain as we work toward a seamless transition to USMCA, our upgraded trade agreement.

“Americans rightly demand that our trade negotiators obtain quality agreements with strong provisions that ensure a level playing field for American farmers, manufacturers, and service providers.  There is no question in my mind that USMCA has achieved this goal, and as a result I am a strong supporter and look forward to approving the agreement very soon.  The agreement is modernized for the world today and into the future.  Just a few highlights of the major upgrades USMCA include:  a new digital trade chapter, strong intellectual property standards with obligations to enforce them, new market access and fairer treatment at the border for our farmers, disciplines on state-owned enterprises, facilitation of exports by our small businesses, and much more. 

“Because our negotiators have obtained such strong commitments from our trading partners, we must enforce them in a predictable and effective way – otherwise the strong gains we won are meaningless.  We have to hold our trading partners accountable so that Americans succeed in these markets and actually receive the benefits that we bargained for.  As a businessman, I know through my experience that a contract is only as good as the parties involved and the tools we have to make sure that the parties live up to their obligations, and the same is true of our trade agreements.  Robust enforcement allows us to reap the full benefits of the concessions that other countries make to us.

“I know that many of my Democratic colleagues have focused in particular on enforcement of labor and environmental provisions in USMCA.  I am pleased that we obtained strong provisions in those areas, and I agree that they should be fully and effectively enforced so that our companies can compete based on quality and innovation rather than being undermined by weak labor or environmental rules.  These are just two important areas among many in the agreement, though, and we need strong and effective enforcement of all aspects of the agreement.  Again, this is a strong agreement across the board, and it is in our interest to make sure that it lives up to our expectations.

“Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing, and thank you to the witnesses for taking the time to be here before us today.”