Leaders and economists discuss USMCA trade agreement
As of Wednesday, a new trade agreement between the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement is now in effect.
Lawmakers on both sides of the border say this new agreement will bring better wages for certain Mexican workers and avoid job losses in the United States. Some experts say the changes in this new agreement are very few.
An important part of the Río Grande Valley's economy relies on manufacturing in Tamaulipas and receiving exports from throughout Mexico.
"On the Mexican side, salaries will increase," said congressman Mario Delgado, who represents the Iztacalco borough of Mexico City.
For Mexican lawmakers, this new trade agreement means that the country's competitiveness won't be based solely on its low salaries.
Since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office, he raised the minimum wage in areas along the United States border to $8.17 an hour, and $5.42 for the rest of the country.
In the United States, the new trade agreement means greater investment in its highways and bridges.
"This is why today, we're voting on adding $100 million for those ports of entries so we can [improve them]," said Congressman Henry Cuéllar.
"But a lot of people say it’s just shuffling of the same deck," said Maroula Khraiche, an economist from the University of Texas Río Grande Valley.
"While the [trade] agreement may be new, many things stay the same in comparison to NAFTA," said Teo Sepúlveda, an economist from South Texas College.
The few changes made, include the elimination of export taxes on video and music sold between all three countries.
Experts say the biggest take-away is that Mexican manufacturing workers will be asking for higher salaries and benefits. Within the last year, workers have gone on strike at factories in Tamaulipas.
"Mexico needed this trade agreement to create more confidence in our economy, especially now as we face this serious situation with the pandemic," said Mexican Congresswoman Pilar Lozano Mac Donald.
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