Brown Calls U.S., Mexico Trade Pact a ‘Step Forward’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called the Trump Administration’s tentative agreement to rework the United States’ trade pact with Mexico an “important step forward” in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta.

“We need to review the text of the tentative agreement with Mexico, but this is an important step forward,” Brown said in a statement shortly after President Donald Trump announced a deal between the two countries was at hand.

“I have been working closely with our top trade negotiator Bob Lighthizer. In fact I just spoke to him again late last night,” Brown said. “We still have a lot to do to bring Canada on board and write the legislation to make any deal a reality, and I will keep working with Lighthizer to make sure every deal is right for Ohio workers.”

Brown voted against the Nafta bill while a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, and Congress must still approve the new pact with Mexico, or a potential new trade agreement that includes Canada.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, Ohio, said in a statement that he looks “forward to reviewing the text of the initial agreement, and will continue to pressure the administration to achieve a strong, trilateral agreement that puts workers in the United States, Mexico, and Canada first.”

“There’s no question that over its 25-year history Nafta has hurt American workers and industries,” Ryan continued. “As renegotiation continues, a future deal must prioritize workers and give them a level playing field – I’ve been fighting for that since I was first elected.”

Trump announced the preliminary agreement from the Oval Office on Monday with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto connected through a conference call.

The new pact, dubbed the United States Mexico Trade Agreement, essentially revises segments of Nafta that Trump has consistently called unfair to U.S. workers. As such, the president has called for scrapping the name Nafta altogether from the trade agreement.

“We’re going to get rid of Nafta because it has a bad connotation,” Trump said on Monday.

Among the key points to the draft agreement includes a stipulation that 75% of the content in any car sold in North America be produced in the U.S. or Mexico. Under current Nafta rules, 62.5% of content is required to be produced in the U.S., Mexico, or Canada.

Also, manufacturers would be required to source more domestic steel and aluminum, while the new deal requires that 40% to 45% of the vehicle be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour.

Negotiations to rework Nafta began more than a year ago, but tensions between the trade partners escalated in May when Trump announced the U.S. would impose a blanket 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports.

Canada has retaliated with penalties of $12.5 billion worth of U.S. goods, and Mexico responded with duties on $3 billion worth of goods shipped from the United States.

Pena Nieto, speaking through an interpreter during Trump’s announcement, said that he hoped “Canada will also be able to be incorporated in this.”

In a statement released Monday, Brad Parscale, campaign manager for Donald J. Trump for President Inc., reinforced that the president was keeping his word to the American people.

“Once again, President Trump is delivering on this fundamental promise with a new trade deal with Mexico that replaces a failed deal forged by establishment Washington,” he said. “American workers can rejoice as even more new jobs and economic benefits will surely follow this deal and build on the momentum of this historic Trump economic boom.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.