When the often braggadocious Donald J. Trump campaigned for president, he promised Americans, if elected, we’d win so much we’d eventually get tired of it. When it comes to the economy, Trump may have undersold himself. The Republican cut taxes and gutted many of the free market-stifling regulations signed by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat. The drastic change in policy resulted in one win after another for the financial bottom line of many Americans. Unemployment is historically low, especially for minorities, and wages have grown faster than any time in recent history. Just about every week, the stock market seems to reach a new high.
But there’s more winning on the way. Trump appears to have won approval for a key trade deal with Canada and Mexico that could benefit Louisiana more than any other state, according to Scott Franklin, a Richland Parish farmer and president of the Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association.
The U.S., Mexico and Canada Agreement, or USMCA, will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, signed 26 years ago under former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Last week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, announced she would finally allow a vote on USMCA after holding up the trade deal for a year. Pelosi made the announcement the same day Democrats introduced articles of impeachment against the president. Pelosi may have finally caved, realizing swing district Democrats will have to show they’re for something other than unjustifiably removing a duly elected president they passionately dislike.
Pelosi's yearlong delay hurt Louisiana’s agriculture economy. Mexico is the leading importer of Louisiana rice and corn. Canada is the fourth-largest importer of U.S. rice.
“Republicans pushed for a deal on #USMCA for months while Pelosi wasted time on her impeachment sham. We finally have an agreement. Passing @realDonaldTrump’s strong trade deal will be a major boost for our economy and a huge win for American workers. No more delays. Let’s vote,” tweeted Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
The House is expected to vote on USMCA before adjourning on Friday. The Senate will likely vote on the trade deal in January. It’s expected to pass.
“The USMCA will directly benefit Louisiana’s farmers and manufacturers, allowing them to build on the success of our national economy. I look forward to this legislation passing,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
The Washington D.C. pettiness in holding up the trade deal hurt Louisiana’s agricultural economy. The state’s energy and petrochemical industries also stand to benefit from better trade relations with Mexico and Canada.
"Bottom line is this: USMCA is an improvement to NAFTA, it puts American workers first — where they belong, and it should not have been held hostage by congressional politics this long," said U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge.
U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, sits on the House Agriculture Committee. Abraham believes USMCA will eventually add $68 billion and close to 200,000 jobs to the U.S. economy. Abraham, who owns a family farm, criticized Pelosi for holding up the trade agreement for so long.
"Agriculture exports are expected to increase by more than $2 billion annually. That’s $2 billion for our farmers and ranchers we can never get back. It’s a shame the benefits of this historic agreement have been delayed by petty politics and partisan animosity," said Abraham.
Louisiana’s agriculture economy could get another boost after the White House announced an agreement with China in Phase One of its trade negotiations. The agreement would cut U.S. tariffs in half, and in return, China would agree to purchase up to $50 billion in agriculture products over the next two years. This would be a big boost for Louisiana’s soybean farmers, who have seen a loss in exports while Trump challenged the Chinese on their lopsided and unfair trade practices.
More than 7,000 Louisiana farmers have received more than $180 million in federal assistance during the so-called trade war with China. About 70 percent of those subsidies went to soybean farmers. Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain believes a new deal with China will eventually lead to “a big jump in soybeans.”
“With all these different trade deals coming into play, once they’re signed, you’re going to see commodity prices increase,” he said.
Tired of winning yet?
Email Dan Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.