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Straight Talk: Trade Rocks #USMCAnow

Posted by: Andrew Wiens on Monday, June 24, 2019

Disclaimer: No, I’m not encouraging you to swap minerals with your fellow business leaders.

Your friendly neighborhood Government Relations (GR) team at the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce continues to advocate for a pro-business environment at the local, state and federal levels of government. While we are making progress on key issues like workforce and transportation, we could use your help on another topic of great importance to the Wichita region: free trade.

There has been an overwhelming amount of information in the news recently about trade issues (if I had a dollar for every time I heard/saw the word “tariff” in the past year, my full-time job would be taste-testing Wichita craft beers on a boat on a lake near you). However, one trade topic you need to know about is the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA is an updated and improved trade agreement that expands on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). If you’re not familiar, please take two minutes to check out this high-level summary from our friends at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about reasons to support the USMCA.

Briefly, the USMCA “will preserve and strengthen our trade ties to our two most important export markets.” This is true for our state specifically, as Canada and Mexico are Kansas’ top two foreign markets, with exports of about $2.5 billion and $1.9 billion of goods and services to each country, respectively. The USMCA will better serve our interests and create opportunities for future economic growth in our region in agriculture, manufacturing and other industries.

Our D.C. Fly-In delegation met with Director of the National Taxpayers Union’s Free Trade Initiative Bryan Riley (front center) in May.We had the opportunity to make our case for congressional approval of the USMCA in person with the Kansas Congressional Delegation in May during the Chamber’s annual Washington D.C. Fly-In (learn more from 2019 Chamber Chairman Michael Monteferrante here). Our meetings included a trade briefing with Kansas native Ambassador C.J. Mahoney at the Office of the United State Trade Representative; a lunch presentation from Kansas native and Director of the National Taxpayers Union’s Free Trade Initiative Bryan Riley; and a legislative briefing on the prospects of USMCA passage from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Holli Schletzbaum from Kansas Global Trade Services accompanied us on the trip and provided a nice summary of our conversations on the trade issue in this Wichita Business Journal guest column.

Given the significance of this trade agreement for the economy of South Central Kansas, the Wichita Chamber joined the USMCA Coalition to combine efforts with others working toward congressional approval of the USMCA. Karyn Page, President and CEO of Kansas Global Trade Services, describes the importance of trade to the Wichita region this way: “Free trade agreements are simply tools that help companies be more competitive in the global marketplace by reducing business barriers, like eliminating tariffs. The USMCA is important because free trade is important. Exports in the Wichita metro area support about 40,000 jobs and about half of the state's exports actually come from right here.” I hope you will strongly consider joining the Wichita Chamber and Kansas Global Trade Services in becoming members of the USMCA Coalition to strengthen our united voice on this key issue. Joining is free, just like we want our trade to be.

Fortunately, Wichita is well-represented in D.C. with Senator Roberts, Senator Moran and Congressman Estes all strongly backing the USMCA. Rep. Estes was even named to the USMCA leadership team to help whip votes in Congress and has been a vocal proponent for the USMCA’s benefits for our region, state and country. Despite this great support, it is important that we ensure the voice of business is heard loud and clear on this issue. Keep reading below for more information on how to tell your trade story to our federal representatives who can use these stories to encourage their colleagues to vote in favor of the USMCA. Give @USMCACoalition a follow on Twitter, and use the hashtag #USMCAnow to express your support for free trade.

For more information about how you can get involved and support the USMCA, check out the sections below.

Andrew Wiens
Vice President of Government Relations
Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce


Join the USMCA Coalition

The USMCA Coalition was formed in January 2019 with the objective of securing congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The Coalition’s membership is approaching 400 companies and includes businesses of every sector and size as well as hundreds of associations and local chambers of commerce.

Members are coordinating through the Coalition on workstreams such as congressional outreach, communications, social media and grassroots activities to pursue the Coalition’s objective.

The Coalition is a collaborative effort among trade associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens of other national business and agriculture groups. In addition, a number of corporate co-chairs are taking part to provide strategic direction alongside association representatives.

There is no financial commitment to join the Coalition. Companies are encouraged to participate in relevant advocacy and communications opportunities in Washington and around the country as they arise. If you are interested in participating in the work of this Coalition, please complete the brief form here. If you have questions or comments, please contact the U.S. Chamber’s Nate Giordano at ngiordano@uschamber.com.

Send Your Trade Story/Support Statement to the Kansas Congressional Delegation

We need your help to provide personal/human stories and statements of support directly from businesses to elected representatives.

Send your letter to Rep. Ron Estes, Sen. Jerry Moran, or Sen. Pat Roberts and copy Karyn Page (page@kansasglobal.org) with Kansas Global Trade Services so she can share it with U.S. House Ways & Means trade staff.

Here’s an outline to help tell the story.

- Company introduction: Name; Location: city, state; Industry & product description

- NAFTA/USMCA and International experience: What countries exporting to; How long exporting to Canada & Mexico

- NAFTA/USMCA benefit to your company: Jobs supported and retained; How much your company has grown; How your community has benefited

- Statement of support: wrap up with a definitive statement of support for USMCA (sample statements of support).


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