In 1994, Disney’s “The Lion King” was in theaters and on its way to become one of the most popular films in the world.
Today, 25 years later, “The Lion King” is still in theaters, only revamped and recut with the latest technology that didn’t exist in the early ’90s.
Congress should take note, and remake another classic from 1994: the North American Free Trade Agreement.
A great portion of our economy in Colorado is dependent on trade with Canada and Mexico, who are by far Colorado’s top trading partners. Colorado exports $2.7 billion in goods to Canada and Mexico, and roughly a quarter million jobs exist in the Centennial State because of our trade relationships with our North American neighbors.
Colorado farmers produce nearly half of all the potatoes Mexico imports from the United States, and of all the U.S. beverages Mexico imports, 97% come from Colorado.
The world has changed at a whirlwind pace in the past quarter century, but the trade agreement that matters most to Colorado businesses, farmers, and ranchers has sat unchanged, becoming more and more outdated as each day goes by. The technology our economy depends on today simply didn’t exist when President George H.W. Bush was negotiating the agreement or later when it was signed by President Bill Clinton in his first term.
The first online consumer retail shopping transaction as we know it, a staple of today’s economy, didn’t take place until after NAFTA went into effect.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, is an opportunity and a necessity to support Colorado’s working families, agricultural producers and small-business owners. It contains new sections to reflect our modern economy and global concerns, including the first-ever chapter in a U.S. trade agreement solely dedicated to small- and medium-sized businesses.
New customs and trade rules will cut red tape and make it easier for Colorado startups and entrepreneurs to sell their products across the United States border. Farmers and exporters will have access to new markets, and U.S. agricultural and food exports are expected to rise more than $2 billion every year if the USMCA is adopted.
The USMCA also encourages clean energy and requires international cooperation on a range of environmental and conservation issues.
Altogether, the USMCA is estimated to add 176,000 American jobs and boost our gross domestic product by $68 billion.
NAFTA created thousands of jobs in Colorado, and U.S. trade with our North American neighbors quadrupled since it went into effect.
Colorado’s workforce and economy stand to benefit from the USMCA, which is something every member of Congress from Colorado should be able to support.
It has been nearly a year since the USMCA was signed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and President Trump, and now it’s up to the legislative bodies in each country to ratify the agreement.
Mexico ratified the USMCA in June, and Canada is moving forward with ratification as quickly as possible. In the United States, the House of Representatives has to bring the agreement up for a vote before the Senate can consider it, but little to no action has been taken to date.
I encourage members of the United States House of Representatives to listen to Colorado’s farmers and ranchers.
Listen to our workers and unions, our job creators and working families, and everyone who stands to benefit from an updated agreement.
Bring the most important trade agreement for Colorado into the modern era, and pass the USMCA.
Cory Gardner, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Colorado.