Barry DuVal OpEd: Free trade and economic competitiveness
By: Barry DuVal
Virginia is home to a business community known for creating jobs and economic opportunities across a diverse range of industries. Consumers and businesses around the world purchase and enjoy our made-in-Virginia products at an affordable cost, all of which is not possible without free trade.
Virginia has long been blessed by a strong economy with regular recognition as one of the best states for business.Access to free and open trade with other nations is vital to continued economic prosperity and key to our goal toward repositioning Virginia as the best state to do business.
As a result of international trade, businesses in the commonwealth have access to markets in nations from Canada and Mexico, all the way to Sri Lanka. International trade is more than just good businesses, it is a necessary component of increased economic competitiveness and overall success, which is why Congress should approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, better known as the USMCA.
The USMCA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an agreement that took effect 25 years ago between the United States, Mexico and Canada. As we grow and develop as a nation, it is important that we continually evaluate and improve our policies to ensure they meet the current needs of our economy, which is exactly what the USMCA can do.
The USMCA brings America’s economic relationship with Canada and Mexico into the 21st century. This new agreement increases market access for U.S. companies in several key industries, such as agriculture and manufacturing and establishes a modern roadmap for digital trade across our three countries.
Virginia has much to benefit from the passage of the USMCA. In 2017, Virginia businesses exported more than $6 billion worth of goods and services to Canada and Mexico, and more than 300,000 Virginia jobs support these trade partnerships.
With lower trade barriers, updated digital standards and more equitable customs practices, the USMCA ensures trade flows will continue with Canada and Mexico and will benefit American consumers, workers, farmers and exporters.
By establishing 21st century rules for doing business online, as written in USMCA, we have the opportunity to better support our small businesses by increasing their reach and access to customers in other countries both near and afar.
Virginia has some of the nation’s brightest minds seeking solutions for our biggest problems, and the USMCA will protect their work, promote more innovation, and create jobs.
Streamlining the process innovators must go through to obtain intellectual property protection will continue to encourage Virginians to think big without the fear of their competitors getting a hand on their ideas. The USMCA is a win for Virginia’s workers and job creators.
Free trade with Canada and Mexico is creating new, good-paying jobs and helping people climb the economic ladder. To keep this train going, Virginia’s lawmakers in DC must put politics aside and put us first.
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce urges support for the USMCA trade deal.
DuVal is the president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.