July 2, 2019

Washington, D.C.- Albert Zapanta, President and CEO of the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce (USMCOC), and Binational Board Members of the Chamber Louis Escareno, Legal Counsel of Duty Free Americas/UETA and Bryan Ricker, Vice President of Community Development Manager of Zions Bank traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. Congressmen and discuss passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The Chamber Delegation had the opportunity to meet with members of Congress of both parties on June 25th and 26th, and was also invited to the Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas Regional White House Conference.

The Regional Conference held on June 25th at the White House was an exceptional opportunity to learn about domestic initiatives on Community Revitalization, Urban Development, Drug Control Policy, Agriculture, Transportation, Small Businesses, Transportation, Agriculture and Energy, which also have an important effect on international trade. U.S. Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue along, with high level officials of the Administration were part of this event.

Maj. Gen. Albert Zapanta (Ret) was invited to witness the signing of President Trump’s Executive Order establishing the White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing Development, which will be chaired by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson. Secretary Carson and Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) joined the signing ceremony. General Zapanta was also invited to the Medal of Honor Ceremony with President Trump.

The USMCOC strongly believes in free trade, and advocates for the continuation of a legal framework that facilitates the exchange of goods and services between the nations in the North American Region. The Chamber has had the opportunity to engage and discuss at length the new agreement with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and we are certain that the USMCA provides not just the much-needed updates to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but also the tools to adapt to the fast-pace changes in all industries due to new science discoveries, technology and innovation, while at the same time incorporating a new vision of labor and ecological practices to provide equal protections for workers and the environment in all three countries.

The delegation first met with Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), and her Chief of Staff, Brian Sowyrda, followed by a meeting with Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Agriculture, and his Chief of Staff, Matthew J. Russell and other members of his team. Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House Republican Conference Chair, the third-highest position in the GOP House leadership met with the delegation and assured that Republican Members of Congress are prepared to vote for the USMCA.

The Chamber delegation also met with Congressman Ted W. Lieu (R-CA), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Tom Mahr, Policy Director at the Office of Congressman Steny Hoyer(MD), House Majority Leader, and Johnna Carlson, Chief of Staff of Congressman Michael T. McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Chamber delegation expressed to members of Congress and their staff, the willingness to provide support to the USMCA ratification process.
There is strong support for the ratification of the USMCA by the U.S. Congress, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the creation of a “Trade Working Group” led by Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA), Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, to review some areas of concern. This working group is integrated by teams who focus on the following topics:

• Biologics: led by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL);
• Labor: led by Congressmen Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA);
• Environmental: led by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Congressman John Larson (D-CT);
• Enforcement: led by Congresswomen Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

The Chamber will conduct follow-up meetings with members of Congress of the Trade Working Group, in support of passage of the USMCA this fall.