January 16, 2020

Wyden, Oregon Labor, Ag and Business Leaders Hail Bipartisan Passage of New NAFTA

Senator: Updated agreement reflects Democratic push for strong labor enforcement, upgraded digital trade and new environmental provisions

Washington, D.C. –Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., hailed the passage of the new NAFTA trade agreement today, by a bipartisan 89-10 vote.

The updated agreement with Mexico and Canada includes strong new enforcement provisions by Wyden and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, along with modern digital trade rules to advance innovation and free speech, and new environmental protections.

“The version of NAFTA the Trump administration released in 2018 was fundamentally flawed, particularly because it was weak on enforcement. After a lot of work by members here in the Senate and in the House, the proposition of protecting American workers from trade cheats is now at the heart of this agreement. No more corporate race to the bottom coming at the expense of America’s middle class. Today’s broad, bipartisan vote in favor of the new NAFTA reflects the fact that putting workers first is absolutely essential to trade that Oregonians and the rest of America can support,” Wyden said.

Wyden and Brown highlighted how the new labor enforcement rules require faster action with stronger penalties for foreign factories that violate labor laws in a Senate floor speech on Wednesday, and Wyden also spoke Wednesday on how the new deal address flaws in the original NAFTA.

Oregon labor, agriculture and business leaders also praised the updated agreement and Wyden’s work to secure it.

"After decades of disastrous consequences for working families and nearly two years of renegotiation, NAFTA has finally been rewritten in a way that makes trade rules in the U.S. fairer,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor. “Thanks to the perseverance of working people across the country and our allies in Congress, the new USMCA contains the first truly enforceable labor standards, raising the bar for future trade negotiations. While it's far from perfect, working people relentlessly demanded a deal that benefits workers over corporate profits and have now secured an agreement we can support. Thanks to Senators Wyden and Brown for standing strong with workers to demand a truly enforceable agreement."

“The USMCA is far better than NAFTA and we owe Senators Brown and Wyden a debt of gratitude for their efforts,” said Joe Ybarguen, President of United Steelworkers’ Oregon Legislation and Education Committee and Business Manager for Local 8378. “It is up to the U.S., Canada and Mexico to be vigilant with implementation and enforcement of the provisions set to protect workers rights and the environment.”

“The new NAFTA provides some much needed certainty to many of our members who view Canada & Mexico as important markets, said Skip Newberry, President of the Technology Association of Oregon. “In particular some of the new provisions around strengthening intellectual property protections as well as providing certainty for internet-based companies as it relates to liability for content posted by users are all welcome improvements to the old NAFTA.”

“We appreciate Senator Wyden’s leadership in ensuring these important export markets remain open,” said Jana McKinney, Executive Director of the Oregon Winegrowers Association. “Canada is the #1 export market for Oregon and U.S. wines. Senator Wyden’s support for export promotion funding is allowing Oregon winemakers to expand activities in Canada and Mexico to help Oregon wineries fully realize the benefits of the USMCA.”

“The nursery and greenhouse industry, Oregon's largest sector of agriculture, supports passage of trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico,’’ said Jeff Stone, Executive Director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries.  “These two countries are important partners to the industry.  Canada in particular is the top trading partner for the industry.  Senator Wyden has been a critical leader in advocating for open trade and the export of environmentally beneficial green goods and works diligently to ensure that Oregon goods are not held up by petty artificial trade barriers around the globe.”

“I am very happy to see the Senate pass this updated trade agreement and appreciate Senator Wyden’s leadership in negotiating a better deal for our state and for Oregon agriculture,” said Walter Powell, Chair of the Oregon Wheat Commission. “Mexico is US wheat’s biggest customer, and this is a good agreement for US wheat and a good agreement for our milling customers in Mexico.” 

“USMCA is a win for U.S. dairy and all of American agriculture,” said Patrick Criteser, president and CEO of the Tillamook County Creamery Association, the 110-year-old Oregon-based, farmer-owned dairy cooperative. “Our industry’s success depends on our critical North American partnerships and, by leveling the playing field with our trading partners, USMCA opens doors to a bright future and continued growth for U.S. dairy through exports to Canada and Mexico. We join with our peers across dairy and other industries in applauding this successful bipartisan effort, and we congratulate and thank Senator Wyden for his leadership on behalf of American agriculture and Oregon.”

“Our business is happy that Congress worked to get this trade agreement accomplished.  Senator Wyden has been a champion for Oregon trade, and we greatly appreciate his work,” said Marty Myers, General Manager of Threemile Canyon Farms. “This agreement is significant for our business and the Columbia Basin overall because both our major agricultural products – dairy and potatoes – benefit.  Mexico buys a lot of dairy and they love Oregon and U.S. potato products.”