Delaware Public Media

Sen. Carper backs new trade deal for US, Mexico and Canada

Jan 8, 2020

Delaware’s senior senator is showing his support for the Trump administration’s plan to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) sits on the Senate Finance Committee which voted overwhelmingly Tuesday, 25-3, to approve the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace NAFTA, which is now more than 26 years old. 

Carper voted in favor of the new trilateral trade agreement, praising it as a good deal for Delaware’s chicken industry. 

Poultry leads Delaware’s ag industry with more than $1.1 billion in production, according to the last ag census. And The USMCA expands the Canadian market for poultry products grown in the US. 

“The voice of Delaware was heard and it was the sound of a clucking of a chicken, an angry chicken,” said Carper. “So we’re well pleased with that.”

The deal has also found support from Delaware’s Farm Bureau. Bureau President Richard Wilkins, last Spring, praised the USMCA’s measure to standardize the regulatory review process between the three countries for new technologies.

“When the original NAFTA was created there was a lot of technology that did not yet exist in the agricultural marketplace and what I’m referring to is some of the new plant breeding techniques,” said Wilkins.

More than 37,300 jobs in Delaware are supported by trade with Canada and Mexico, and Delaware exported $1.2 billion worth of goods and services to the two countries in 2017, according to an annual Business Roundtable study.   

At Tuesday’s hearing, Carper bemoaned the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to leave Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—another multilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries secured during the Obama administration.  

“I wish this administration hadn’t pulled us out of TPP,” said Carper. “The idea that we were leading a 12-nation group for trading, we were the leader [of] 40% of the world’s trade; China on the outside looking in, and why we walked away from that agreement, I’m not sure.”

In addition to freeing up untapped poultry and dairy markets, the USMCA also strengthens labor laws, adds environmental regulations and requires a larger percentage of auto parts be manufactured in the three countries.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has signaled a full Senate vote on the USMCA will not happen until after the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.