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USMCA: Tell Your Members of Congress to Get Moving!

By Eric Elgin

November 22, 2019

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I have to be honest and tell you that when the senior editor of BoxScore sent me a note reminding me that my column was due, I asked myself, “What can I possibly write about? How can I write a ‘legislative’ column when so little legislating is being done by our Congress?”

So, I scoured my document archives and found a column I wrote exactly a year ago, this one about the then-recently negotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, also known as “NAFTA 2.0.” Remember this? You can be forgiven if you’ve forgotten all about it, as anything that can help our country, our economy, and our manufacturing sector seems to have been also forgotten by our elected legislators and the mainstream media.

A year ago, I urged you to contact your representatives and senators to voice support for this agreement. I acknowledged then, as I do now, that while the principal provisions of this agreement don’t directly affect the corrugated, folding carton, rigid box, or partition industries, we will be the beneficiaries of the downstream flow of business from our customers who supply into the auto, dairy, and related manufacturing sectors. In addition, new requirements for worker-organizing rights and higher pay scales in Mexico will put that country on a more level playing field with the U.S. and Canada, which for decades have had these protections and higher wages in place.

At our 2019 Annual Meeting, held in September in Toronto, we were reminded by economist Paul Leclair that the pace of our U.S. manufacturing sector, as expressed by the Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing index, slowed in the first half of the year and dipped below the “50” level for the first time since 2013. Our North American economy, dependent as it is on $1 trillion in U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade, could therefore certainly benefit by the passage of this trade agreement and give a shot in the arm to our customers and our business in the process.

So, I reissue the call I made last year: Whether you agree with my assessment or not, I think it’s important that we in the manufacturing community—and especially our packaging side of it—express our views on this. Of course, I hope you’ll agree that this is a good agreement that’s good for our economy. And if you do, let your representatives and senators know it. We’ve made it easy for you to do this—scan the QR codes below for the House and Senate directories.

We have an opportunity for a boost to our economy in the final approval of this agreement. Let’s do it!

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Eric Elgin is owner of Oklahoma Interpak and Chair of AICC’s Government Affairs Subcommittee. He can be reached at 918-687-1681 or eric@okinterpak.com.