WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, announced Friday he will support the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“I believe that trade is good for Virginia’s economy,”said Warner. “I believed that as Governor of Virginia, and I believe it now. Whether in agricultural products, digital goods, or heavy-duty manufacturing, Virginia has benefited from the exports of the Commonwealth’s globally competitive businesses. And the bustling Port of Virginia ensures that Virginia benefits from much of the imports flowing through our region.” “Trade relationships are also a form of diplomacy, allowing us to increase U.S. influence abroad and deepen our relationships with foreign partners in ways that benefit not just American prosperity but U.S. security and leadership,” Warner continued. “I’m optimistic this trade agreement will help American farmers, ports, manufacturers, retailers, and workers. This deal will address issues like digital trade that NAFTA couldn’t fully anticipate, and help decrease market barriers to agricultural products that have been huge points of concern for Virginia farmers. I’m also enormously grateful for the work of House and Senate Democrats in improving key provisions of this bill, most notably related to environmental and fair labor practices. This agreement includes strong labor protections, including monitoring and enforcement, to ensure that companies in our partner nations are held accountable to the same labor standards as American firms. These improvements are critical to ensuring that American workers are permitted to compete with foreign workers on a level playing field.”
“Overall, I’m hopeful that the agreement will provide the consistency and stability the business community needs,” he continued. “At the same time, I worry that the costs of this deal will come in the form of reduced U.S. credibility and trust from our allies and closest trading partners. Throughout the negotiation process, the President’s repeated threats to withdraw from NAFTA, to heedlessly close the border with Mexico, and to levy tariffs on Canada and Mexico have exemplified the troubling and erratic approach to trade issues that we’ve seen from this Administration.”
“I want to note that I have concerns with the inclusion of safe harbor language modeled on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Congress is beginning an important, bipartisan debate about whether Section 230 is working as intended, and many – including prominent civil rights groups – believe that Section 230 has allowed internet intermediaries to ignore misuse of their platforms by bad actors. I would urge USTR to refrain from including this provision in future free trade agreements until that debate has reached its apex,” concluded Sen. Warner.
Virginians applauded Warner’s announcement.
“Virginia Poultry Federation is grateful for Senator Warner’s support of this agreement, which preserves access to our largest international market for U.S. poultry exports, Mexico, and creates opportunities for expanding poultry trade with Canada. This is a big deal for Virginia’s largest agricultural sector, and we appreciate Senator Warner’s leadership,” said Hobey Bauhan, President, Virginia Poultry Federation.
“Virginia Cattlemen’s Association appreciates Senator Warner being a supporter of USMCA. The USMCA is a great trade deal for Virginia cattle producers, as the number of cattle being sold into Canada is growing each year,” stated Tracy Fitzsimmons, Executive Director, Virginia Cattlemen’s Association.
“America’s dairy farmers produce nutritious and quality dairy products that are enjoyed both domestically and around the world. USMCA provides a valuable update to prior agreements and ensures that dairy products can access the two markets closest to us, Mexico and Canada. USMCA will improve and strengthen America’s relationship with Mexico, our top dairy customer,” said Eric Paulson, Executive Director, Virginia State Dairymen’s Association. “It will also open up new opportunities for U.S. dairy products to be sold in Canada. Increasing dairy exports to our two closest trading partners will benefit producers both in Virginia and nationwide,”
“This is very welcome news for Virginia hog farmers, all U.S. pork producers and American agriculture,” said Jessica Cunningham, President, Virginia Pork Council. “USMCA provides much-needed certainty to export-dependent hog farmers, ensuring duty-free access to markets representing approximately 40 percent of total U.S. pork exports. We thank Senator Warner for his support of the USMCA and applaud this milestone toward the agreement’s ratification.”
“Farm Credit of the Virginias supports the USMCA as it provides a true economic benefit to America’s farmers and ranchers. Of particular importance for our farmers in Virginia, USMCA will provide new market access for dairy and poultry products in Canada and maintains the zero-tariff platform on all other ag products and on all ag products to Mexico,” Peery Heldreth, CEO, Farm Credit of the Virginias, said.
“Virginia Farm Bureau supports adoption of the USMCA trade agreement. The USMCA builds on the success of NAFTA while modernizing and updating that agreement with important provisions that support U.S. agriculture, and drive American innovation and competitiveness. The USMCA will provide new market access for dairy and poultry products in Canada and maintains the zero-tariff platform on all other ag products to Mexico,” said Ben Rowe, National Affairs Coordinator, Virginia Farm Bureau.
“This is good news for trade, specifically for grain farmers, pork and poultry producers and lumber exporters,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and Executive Director of the Virginia Port Authority. “We expect to see our export volumes begin to rebound, so this is a positive development for The Port of Virginia’s customers, cargo owners, port users and ultimately, the American economy. Trade thrives in a predictable, stable and open environment.”
“International trade is a pillar of Virginia’s economy and for nearly a century the Virginia Maritime Association has promoted, protected, and encouraged trade through Virginia’s ports. Therefore, we are pleased the U.S., Mexico, and Canada have reached an agreement with terms that reflect the business and economic changes since NAFTA was negotiated and which we hope will benefit Virginia companies for many years to come,” David White, Executive Vice President, Virginia Maritime Association, stated.
“STIHL Inc. believes the USMCA extends the fundamental tenants of free trade and offers mutual benefits for North American workers, farmers, manufacturers and businesses,” said Bjoern Fischer, President of STIHL Inc. in Virginia Beach.