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Border businesses call on Rep. Vargas to support trade deal

Posted at 5:09 PM, Oct 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-10 20:11:15-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A coalition of business organizations and border commerce groups called on Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, today to support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal when Congress votes to ratify it.

Vargas was sent a letter in which he was urged to support the deal, signed by representatives from the Brawley, Chula Vista, El Centro, National City, Otay Mesa, San Ysidro and San Diego Regional chambers of commerce; the Imperial Valley and San Diego Regional economic development corporations; World Trade Center San Diego; the Smart Border Coalition; the South County Economic Development Council; and the San Diego Customs Brokers Association.

The coalition argued that implementing the USMCA would be vital to maintaining cross-border commerce and economic growth should President Trump follow through on his threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"We realize some members of Congress, including yourself, have concerns about USMCA,'' the coalition wrote in the letter, adding that many of his concerns could be addressed in implementing the legislation.

The deal is an update of NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994. Trump, who campaigned on retooling NAFTA, has faced pushback from members of Congress for facets of the deal like tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the deal's enforcement provisions.

If left until 2020, the deal could sit on the back burner during an election year.

The deal is still not close to ratification, however. Earlier this week, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador promised to ensure higher wages and increased labor protections, but its unclear if that convinced enough congressional Democrats to support the deal.

Mexican lawmakers have already ratified the deal while Canadian lawmakers have not yet done so.

According to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, trade between Mexico and San Diego has fostered a $2.5-billion supply chain and more than 100,000 jobs. Annual trade between California and Mexico is valued at roughly $73 billion.

"There is broad consensus in communities across the border region on the importance of USMCA,'' chamber President Jerry Sanders said. "Ratification of USMCA is vital to strengthening economic prosperity, growing jobs and attracting investment the region. The border community's future depends on it.''