ROGERS — Today marked the start of a new chapter for Arkansas and the Western Hemisphere, as the landmark trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada took effect less than a year after the three countries signed the final agreement.
USMCA, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is expected to propel Arkansas’ already robust economy, as Canada and Mexico are perennially the Natural State’s top two trading partners.
“Today marks a historic era on our relationship between Canada, Mexico, and Arkansas. We have factually and quantitatively seen how a North American free trade agreement can work for us, leveraging the partnership to propel the Arkansas economy, accounting for over one third of all exports,” said Melvin Torres, director of Western Hemisphere trade at the World Trade Center Arkansas.
“USMCA will pave the way for prosperity through free and fair trade for all. It is self-evident this updated agreement will facilitate and increase exports for Arkansas companies to both partners alike. Furthermore, the new USMCA will strengthen even more our relationship not only economically but as a group of people working together in unison towards the same goal as well.”
In 2019, Arkansas exports to the two countries amounted to approximately $2.3 billion in goods, while the state had a combined positive trade balance (meaning Arkansas exported more than it imported) with both countries of $485 million, according to Torres, who compiled and analyzed data for the Center’s annual trade and jobs report.
Furthermore, since NAFTA’s implementation, Arkansas’ exports to Mexico have increased by more than 700% compared to just 300% with the rest of the world. Combined, Canada and Mexico supported more than 100,000 in-state jobs in 2019.
Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, described the implementation of USMCA as “great news for Arkansas and America.”
“This modernized, 21st-century trade deal helps strengthen our trading partnership with our neighbors and allies,” Boozman said.
“Arkansas is in a unique position. With this improved trade agreement between our nations, we hope to grow our relationship both as a country and as a state in order to further enhance our industries’ ability to market our goods and services to Mexico and Canada,” Boozman added.
Torres also sees the USMCA as a catalyst for social and economic growth.
“(T)he new USMCA will strengthen our relationship not only economically but as a group of people working together in unison towards the same goal as well,” said Torres, who thanked Arkansas’ congressional delegation for their cooperation.
“Our synergetic relationship will continue to flourish and bring economic prosperity not only for Arkansas and the United States but also for our two largest and most important trading partners. All three partners win with the new USMCA free trade agreement.”
The mission of the World Trade Center Arkansas is to grow trade and increase Arkansas exports by connecting Arkansas businesses to the world through international trade services. The center is part of the University of Arkansas and serves as the trade promotion arm for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. For more information and valuable updates, please follow the center on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to the World Trade Center Arkansas newsletter.