April 8, 2019

Baker: New trade deal critical for Mass. economy

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Gov. Charlie Baker's is urging President Donald Trump to end the trade war with China and Mexico.

Gov. Charlie Baker urged President Trump and Congress on Friday to lift tariffs on Mexican and Canadian metals and ratify the new trade deal intended to replace NAFTA, calling the deal a "strong, fair agreement" that would bolster the relationship between Massachusetts and its largest trading partner Canada.

Baker wrote to Trump and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate on Friday urging all parties to find a way to complete the trade deal, known as the USMCA, that the Trump administration negotiated with U.S. neighbors.

The governor noted that Canada is the state's largest trading partner, with $10.3 billion in bilateral trade in 2018, including the exportation of industrial machinery, aircraft engines and medical equipment that supports over 200 Canadian-owned companies in Massachusetts and 20,000 direct jobs.

"Completion of this fair, flexible trade agreement with our closest trading partners is vital, not only because free trade and strong relationships with neighboring allies are critical for peace and state economic prosperity, but it is critically important for our economy and Massachusetts jobs," Baker wrote in the two-page letter.

Baker said the trade deal will increase environmental and labor regulations, incentivize more domestic production of cars and trucks, update intellectual property protections and give the United States greater access to Canadian dairy products.

While Baker said ratification of the deal is "imperative," he also urged the president and Congress to reverse recent tariffs on aluminum and steel coming from Mexico and Canada that the governor said lead to higher consumer prices and "barriers to attracting foreign investment."

"These tariffs should be lifted upon the swift ratification of the USMCA," Baker wrote.

Bloomberg reported this week that Canada was signaling that it would not ratify the deal if the metal tariffs remained in place

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