State senator: It’s time for Congress to approve U.S., Canada, Mexico trade agreement

As a state senator from a small Montana border town, I understand the need for strong economies both north and south of the international border. Approval of the new trilateral trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico will help stabilize our lives. 

Total value of trade across the border amounted to $673 billion in 2017. Canada is the largest export market for the U.S. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement sets higher standards for Canada and Mexico, and it benefits U.S. growers and consumers. 

I am president of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region. It is a nonprofit association of legislators created by Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon and Northwest Territories. This binational and bipartisan group represents the “Gold Standard for U.S.-Canada relations.” 

I co-chair the PNWER Border Issues Section. PNWER encourages passage of the USMCA Trade Agreement. The 2019 Montana Legislature passed my resolution to encourage Congress to pass USMCA. 

My home is four miles south of the border near Eureka. For many years, my business included commerce across the border, with products ranging from lumber and plywood to advertising and publications. I get it. 

As we say in timber and ag country, “Daylight’s burning. Let’s get this show on the road!” Negotiations have gone on for years, top leaders of the three countries agree, and now we need congressional approval. 

Broad-based support includes Democratic heavy hitters such as Montana’s Max Baucus, who was the longest sitting U.S. senator and former ambassador to China, along with Gary Locke, previous governor of Washington, former ambassador to China and U.S. secretary of commerce. Baucus is co-director of an advocacy group called Farmers for Free Trade. Locke is chairman of the Pass USMCA Coalition, a bipartisan group with executive director Rick Dearborn, a former deputy chief of staff to President Donald Trump and staffer for George W. Bush. 

Many party neutral supporters of free and fair trade are pushing for passage, including Maryscott “Scotty“ Greenwood of Canadian American Business Council and Laurie Trautman, who heads the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University. 

I am contacting my U.S. senators and congressmen. Help me achieve this victory for all of North America. Use your tweets, toots, bells, whistles and Facebook comments. 

Republican Mike Cuffe represents Montana Senate District 1, which borders on British Columbia and Idaho. Cuffe served eight years in the Montana House of Representatives. Formerly, he managed plywood and lumber operations, reported for newspapers, owned a marketing and specialty publications business, and was press secretary for a congressman in Watergate days.