Despite all of the recent turmoil stemming from the Mueller investigation, current events have not been all bad news for the Trump administration. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced that it has formally endorsed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and that the powerful organization will use its influence to help the President to win support for the deal in Congress. At the same time the chamber warned however, that a complete withdrawal from NAFTA, as Trump threatened on the campaign trail, would be a mistake.
In a statement issued on December 10, Tom Donohue, the chamber’s president and CEO, said, “After carefully assessing the new deal and its impact on our members, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has thrown its support behind the USMCA, which is critical to maintaining strong economic growth in the U.S. We will work with the administration and other stakeholders to address a handful of outstanding issues and secure approval of the USMCA in Congress.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions. The chamber has been a pro-business voice in Washington for over 100 years.
When USMCA was first proposed by the Trump administration back in October, the chamber said that it contained “many wins” for all parties concerned, but it did not offer their full endorsement at that time.
The U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Influence
The chamber is among the most powerful business lobbies in the nation. Its significant influence could prove crucial to USMCA’s ratification, by gaining support from business-friendly lawmakers, mainly Republicans, who had some concerns over some of the provisions in the agreement. While Donohue has offered his complete support in helping the President to overcome those objections, he warned against a pullout from NAFTA in order to force a vote on USMCA to replace it. Donohue instead advised that Trump should allow him and the lobbying power of the chamber to sell the deal to the new Congress on its own merits.
The chamber’s statement also called for an immediate repeal of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico. “These tariffs – imposed on our partners as a negotiating tactic – have invited $15 billion in counter-tariffs on U.S. agricultural and manufactured goods. Every week that the tariffs remain in place, $500 million in U.S. imports and exports are affected, inflicting significant harm on American workers, farmers, and ranchers.”
USMCA was signed by the three countries on November 30, as a kind of add-on to NAFTA. In the words of the chamber, the agreement was designed to “modernize the trade partnership that has formed the basis of North American relations for a quarter of a century.”