McALLEN — In perhaps the strongest Republican unification on the North American Free Trade Agreement, 36 Republican senators, including Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, wrote to President Donald Trump on Tuesday supporting the 24-year-old treaty.
Cited in the letter is the nearly half-a-trillion dollars generated annually from Mexican and Canadian shoppers who purchase American-made products.
“NAFTA has driven U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico to approximately $1.3 trillion annually,” the letter states. “Whether manufacturers, farmers or insurance providers, a wide range of industries in the U.S. have benefitted from this agreement, and American consumers are reaping those benefits, too. Canadians and Mexicans buy nearly $500 billion worth of U.S. manufactured goods each year, translating to $37,000 in export revenue for every American factory worker, and U.S. agricultural exports to the two countries have quadrupled under the agreement, from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.1 billion in 2016.”
The letter, also signed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, came hours before Trump delivered his first State of the Union address and a day after the sixth round of NAFTA negotiations concluded in Montreal. Negotiators will next meet later this month in Mexico City, with a hope to conclude negotiations in March, though that timeline remains unclear.
“NAFTA supports 14 million jobs, representing thousands of jobs in each of the 50 states,” the letter continues. “Despite all of its benefits, however, we can do better and there are opportunities to improve the agreement. Modernizing NAFTA to increase market access, expand energy exports to maximize domestic energy production and including provisions on intellectual property and e-commerce will make this agreement even more beneficial to the United States.”
Just last week, Gov. Greg Abbott wrote to the top U.S. trade official in support of NAFTA. Abbott had previously been mostly silent on the topic that impacts a sizeable portion of the Texas economy and which transformed the Rio Grande Valley.
“While NAFTA has been an incredible boon for all of Texas, perhaps nowhere else in the country encapsulates the success of NAFTA as the Rio Grande Valley, which borders Mexico,” Abbott wrote. “According to data from the Texas Workforce Commission, since NAFTA was signed in 1993, unemployment has decreased in the Valley from 21.1 percent to 6.2 percent. Over that same time, the labor force has increased by 87 percent, and per capita income has increased 229 percent — significantly closing the income gap relative to the rest of the nation.”