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Business owners tout proposed trade deal with Mexico, Canada

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Some manufacturers in northeastern Wisconsin want U.S. lawmakers to approval a new regional trade treaty.

Mexico’s Senate last month approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Approval in the U.S. has been held up because some lawmakers are concerned over how to enforce the treaty.

Business owners expressed support for the trade treaty at a forum on the USMCA last week in Green Bay.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Paul Rauscher, who owns the equipment manufacturing company EMT International, Inc. “And I think the idea of using that as a process now to other areas of the world is a good thing.”

Rauscher told the Green Bay Press-Gazette that his company’s biggest export markets are Canada and Mexico.

“I think the United States has been accepting some unfair trade practices worldwide that really do hurt us manufacturers,” said Rauscher, adding that he supports stronger, fair and free trade with minimal tariffs.

Twenty-two Green Bay-area manufacturers and five economic development organizations and educational institutions attended the forum where U.S. Department of Commerce General Counsel

Peter Davidson answered questions about the agreement. Davidson noted that the agreement would not only open abroad markets to mid- and small-sized businesses but also enhance clarity on regulations.

“I’d also say there are transparency and requirements to publish rules and regulations, so that small and medium-sized exporters will know exactly how much it’s going to cost to export to Mexico and Canada before they make the shipments there,” Davidson said.

Even though the trade deal is backed by the Trump Administration, USMCA approval is now at the mercy of the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., insists that changes are needed to generate Democratic support and has appointed a working group to ease Democratic lawmakers’ concerns.

“I hope that doesn’t prevent this from going forward,” said Rauscher, expressing concern over the issue’s possible bipartisanship. “It’s like the Democrats and Republicans can’t agree because one’s a Democrat and one’s a Republican, and even if somebody’s got a good idea they can’t agree on it,” he said.

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