Iowa leaders react to signing of NAFTA replacement


Caitlin Yamada/ Iowa State Daily

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke at the Elite Octane grand opening Sept. 2. At the event, which fell on Labor Day, Reynolds voiced her support for American workers.

Jake Webster

Dignitaries from Canada, the United States and Mexico signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Tuesday.

At a news conference at the signing of the agreement in Mexico City, Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, said NAFTA “needed to be upgraded.”

“It’s nothing short of a miracle that we have all come together,” Lighthizer said. “I think that’s a testament to how good the agreement is.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds released a statement thanking Lighthizer and the Trump administration for their work on the renegotiation of NAFTA, culminating in the agreement signed Tuesday.

“Mexico and Canada are Iowa’s top two trading partners and are critical to our economy,” Reynolds said in the statement. “It’s why I have been calling on Congress to ratify USMCA for over a year.” 

Renegotiating NAFTA was one of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign promises.

In order to come into force, the USMCA must be passed by both the House and Senate before being signed by Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the trade deal will not come up for a vote before Congress recesses next week, and it would come after a likely-January impeachment trial in the Senate. 

“Today’s announcement represents a positive step forward for Iowa’s entire economy,” Reynolds said in the statement. “USMCA is a strong, balanced, and modern trade agreement that will create opportunities for Iowa families, farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses by expanding markets for our world-class exports.”

Troy Price, the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, released his own statement on the signing of the agreement.

“As one of the top exporters of agricultural goods to Canada and Mexico, this USMCA is a win for Iowa farmers and workers,” Price said. “House Democrats have been working for months to make sure this is the best deal for Iowa workers.”

All four members of Iowa’s House congressional delegation — Steve King, Cindy Axne, Dave Loebsack and Abby Finkenauer — released statements thanking the American trade representative on the signing of the trade deal. Iowa’s two senators in Washington, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, also released statements.

“Iowans in every corner of our state have been waiting far too long for Congress to act on the USMCA and now, after months of delay, House Democrats are finally coming on board,” Ernst said in the statement. “President Trump and our Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer negotiated this modernized agreement with our nation’s farmers and workers in mind — knowing the USMCA will provide an economic boon and certainty to folks back home. I’ll be reviewing the updated language, and I’m hopeful we’ll be able to put politics aside and give the hardworking men and women across Iowa and this great nation a huge win.”

Grassley said the signing of the agreement was “long overdue but very welcome news” in his statement.

“Passage of USMCA will be a significant win for farmers, workers and all Americans,” Grassley said in his statement. “Renegotiating NAFTA was a central campaign promise made by President Trump. [Trump] kept his word and Americans will enjoy the many benefits of this upgraded trade deal as a result.”