Vice President Mike Pence said a new North American trade treaty is “absolutely essential” to keep Michigan automotive manufacturers competitive.
Pence visited Michigan April 24 as part of an effort to convince Congress to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which Pence said would “level the playing field” for American workers and manufacturers and bring billions of dollars in new investment. Pence made several stops in Southeast Michigan April 24, fundraising for the president’s re-election campaign and addressing auto industry stakeholders at a public event in Taylor.
Michigan was Pence’s first stop on a nationwide tour to gather support for the USMCA, which would replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The vice president said Trump is delivering on his promises to support Michigan workers and asked attendees in Taylor to contact their representatives in Congress.
“The truth is, we need to hear from Michigan,” Pence said. “We need to hear from the Motor City. We need to hear from the backbone of the American auto industry.”
Trump and leaders of Canada and Mexico signed the free trade agreement in 2018, but each country’s legislature must ratify the agreement. With Democrats in control of the U.S. House, the deal’s fate remains in doubt.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, indicated earlier in April that the House will not consider the new trade deal without tighter enforcement provisions. Pelosi is also seeking labor reforms in Mexico, which would ideally prevent companies from taking advantage of cheap labor.
Trump will meet with Pelosi the week of April 28. Pence said the USMCA needs to be ratified this year, but did not give a firm deadline.
The USMCA doesn’t go far enough to protect U.S. jobs, said American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations President Richard Trumka. In a statement published after Trump signed the agreement, Trumka said the deal is “nothing more than a rebranded corporate handout.”
Before Pence arrived in Taylor, auto industry leaders discussed the positive impacts of Trump’s new trade treaty. Executives at Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said the new North American trade deal is a critical piece of legislation for Michigan’s auto industry.