Buchanan Bullish on NAFTA 2.0

Trade

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY APR 1, 2019

Florida industries often suffered inequity under the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. But the congressman hopes soon to see a change.

“The world’s changed a lot in the last 30 years,” he says. “We’ve got to get out and fight for our companies and our jobs.”

Buchanan says he feels bullish about the future of the Unites States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which he expects to pass in the House come August. Sometimes called NAFTA 2.0, the USMCA could create more fair trade in North America.

The Republican congressman last week sat alongside President Donald Trump in a White House meeting with GOP whips. He says the president wants badly for a new deal to go into place, and may be ready to leave NAFTA behind whether Congress accepts the new deal or not. Buchanan says the USMCA will be the best option for Florida.

And he’s ready for that. Buchanan says production at Manatee County farms and agricultural businesses dropped by half in the 25 years since NAFTA went into effect.

“Our famers can compete with anybody, I say,” he says. “But they feel there has been a lot of unfairness.” The new deal should make it more reasonable to sell fruits grown in Bradenton here and around the world. And Buchanan has also filed legislation with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio aimed at helping farmers in the region more.

Meanwhile, there could also be more commodities coming in and out of Port Manatee. Buchanan noted one in five Florida jobs is related to trade, and that includes many great jobs at Florida’s 15 ports. In Palmetto, Port Manatee creates a number of those. “And they are also very good-paying jobs,” he says. “They pay 30 or 40 percent more than a lot of the normal jobs in the region.”

While Buchanan serves as the lead House Republican talking trade, he’s now in the minority of a Democratic-controlled House. But he says the bill offers a chance at bipartisan work, particularly with representatives in Southern states.

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour: U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, pictured to the right of President Trump, meets with GOP leaders at the White House.

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