Replacing NAFTA: The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement

with Ramiro Cavazos of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The U.S., Mexico and Canada have reached an agreement to replace NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Ramiro Cavazos, President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, discusses how USMCA is similar to — and different than — NAFTA, and details the impacts to Hispanic-owned businesses.

Posted on:

Aug 29, 2019

Hosted by: Nathalia Ortiz
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Ortiz: Congress is considering a massive trade deal that replaces the quarter-century-old North American Free Trade Agreement. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Nathalia Ortiz. If passed, the new United States/Mexico/Canada Agreement, or USMCA, will expand trade opportunities between North American companies. Joining me to discuss the USMCA is Ramiro Cavazos, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Welcome, Ramiro.

Cavazos: Thank you, Nathalia. It's great to be here.

Ortiz: Thank you. We have been hearing some people refer to this as a continuation of NAFTA. Would you say that's accurate, and also, could you describe the similarities or differences between them?

Cavazos: Well, it is accurate that it's a continuation of NAFTA. The USMCA, as it's called now, needs to be passed because it will continue the incredible trade that has occurred between three countries -- Canada, the U.S., and Mexico,] and that trading block is also very competitive in trading products with the rest of the world. So it is a continuation, after 25 years trade multiplied by five times between our three countries in North America thanks to the North America Free Trade Agreement. Where it varies, though, is that it does have a special provision to get small businesses -- Latino businesses -- more involved in those trade opportunities, and also a labor agreement for Mexico and then the third part is a section to protect the environment.

Ortiz: So there's quite a few things wrapped up here into this. That is where it differs from NAFTA, you would say?

Cavazos: Yes. It's more specific. It is an effort to provide more details. When NAFTA was first approved, it was more of a concept with a very minimal document, and many of its provisions were never fully implemented. Now with 25 years of history, we know that free trade is important. We know that products are made in all three countries and then brought to the consumers, and then we also know that it's created incredible prosperity in all three countries. And so for us, how do we continue that, but also provide guidelines in how we treat each other fairly.

Ortiz: Ramiro, we know that it was signed by the three countries at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. However, it has not been ratified by all three countries. Why so, and how do you think this is gonna play out? What are the challenges to that happening?

Cavazos: Well, two of the three countries came with new administrations in the last 12 months -- Mexico, in particular, and of course, the U.S. Mexico, ironically, has already approved the USMCA agreement and also passed very expansive provisions on having stronger labor provisions. The U.S., we have had, of course, the mid-term elections have brought about some confusion about the type of support that exists. We do need to approve this agreement, though, in the U.S., because it also will bring Canada with us, but for right now if we don't approve this agreement, the agreement goes away. So we have one agreement to review and to pass, both Democrats and Republicans and Independents, and so it's important that we do it this year.

Ortiz: So I know that the U.S./Hispanic Chamber supports this agreementHow do you think this is going to affect the day-to-day Hispanic that's in the United States today?

Cavazos: Well, Hispanics, we're 60 million in the U.S. We founded this country. The monetary system is from the Spanish peseta from the American Colonial Period. So this country is a Latino country,whether people want to accept it or not. Our 4.4 million businesses in America that are Latino-owned are creating an economic impact of more than $800 billion, and so we have the advantage of culture, language, and relationships with all three countries, especially Mexico. And it's very clear that the relationship between all three countries is warm and prosperous. And for us, these are our allies, and so for Latinos, we are the future consumer of our country, the future personnel for all Fortune 500 companies. And then we're the future vendors for these businesses, so it makes good business sense for us because we are the future of the strongest economy in the world, which is driven by the Latino demographic and the population growth.

Ortiz: But specifically, we also know that this renegotiation of NAFTA, which is what it is, of sorts, benefits workers, farmers, ranchers, agro business, but also the auto industry, is that correct?

Cavazos: It does. The automotive industry, 40% of the products that are put in are brought in from Mexico, and the rest is brought in from the U.S. So we could not run the full supply chain of the automotive industry without our neighbor to the south in Mexico and the advantages that we have in that. We also have contractors -- Hispanic-owned businesses that are in the automotive industry that do business in both countries, the U.S. and Mexico, so we are inextricably linked. This is an agreement that we need to pass, and our future as an economy depends on it. And our Latino community is gonna be the future of America's prosperity.

Ortiz: Thank you so much, Ramiro.

Cavazos: Thank you.

Ortiz: Ramiro Cavazos from the U.S./Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for being here. Thank all of you for being here, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit I'm Nathalia Ortiz.

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