January 16, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today voted in support of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). King, long skeptical of trade deals with nations that do not share America’s labor and environmental standards, weighed the agreement’s benefits and risks for Maine through extensive consideration before concluding that, while imperfect, the trade deal improves America’s current trade position.
“This was a close call,” said King. “On one-hand, I have long held concerns that trade deals with nations that lack our labor and environmental protections put Maine workers at a disadvantage. We don’t allow any state in the union to skirt these vital requirements, so why would we let any of our trading partners do so with impunity? On the other hand, this agreement adds meaningful provisions to better hold our trading partners accountable and level the playing field for Maine businesses. After carefully studying the provisions and listening to the Maine people who would be affected – including businesses large and small and the folks who work at them – I concluded that this agreement an improvement over the current NAFTA, and much better than removing the deal entirely, which would upend Maine’s important trading relationship with Canada and create massive disruptions in supply chains. The agreement is not perfect, but on balance it’s better than other options under consideration, so I voted yes.”
Historically, trade deals have had a way of leaving Maine workers behind – gutting industry and cutting our workforce. Senator King has long held that the only fair trade deals are those that center on making sure America’s trading partners adopt heightened environmental protections, enforceable labor and workforce provisions, and safeguards for intellectual property. Upon extensive review, Senator King believes that USMCA improves the current 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he opposed because it did not require Mexico to adopt stronger labor and environmental protections. Specifically, and in contrast to NAFTA, Senator King believes that USMCA takes important steps to ensure Mexico will make measurable progress in his three priority areas. Given that Canada and Mexico already have access to U.S. markets, he voted in support of replacing the original NAFTA with the improved USMCA.