Birmingham CEO calls on Congress to quickly ratify Trump’s historic USMCA trade deal
Altec CEO Lee Styslinger III on Wednesday announced his support for the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement, the historic trade deal negotiated by President Donald Trump’s administration that would replace NAFTA.
Altec, headquartered in Birmingham, is a leading equipment and service provider for the electric utility, telecommunications, contractor, lights and signs and tree care markets. The Alabama company provides products and services in more than 100 countries across the globe.
Not only does Styslinger bring his experience running Altec to the table, but the respected businessman also currently serves as a member of the Business Roundtable, a board member of the National Association of Manufacturers and a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Additionally, he was a key member of President George W. Bush’s Export Council and was responsible for advising Bush on government policies and programs that affected U.S. trade performance and export expansion opportunities.
To the point at hand, Styslinger is currently serving as a member of the official Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), which provides policy advice on trade issues to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the highest levels of the Trump administration. Alabama’s own Styslinger and other members of ACTPN have been working closely with Ambassador Robert Lighthizer (the current USTR) to help finalize the USMCA.
On Tuesday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that her caucus has come to an agreement with the Trump administration on the trade deal, setting the USMCA up for probable ratification now.
In a release, Styslinger outlined several benefits of the USMCA:
- Maintains trilateral duty-free trade.
- Modernizes key provisions and open markets more than current NAFTA.
- Overall strengthens intellectual property protections and supports the digital economy.
- Enhances trade facilitation and e-commerce across all three countries.
- Expands services commitments.
- Improves regulatory practices and enhances regulatory transparency.
- Incorporates stronger competition and anti-corruption enterprises.
- Includes important sectoral commitments and standards benefitting energy, telecommunications, financial services, information and communications technology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.
- Incorporates stronger and enforceable labor and environment commitments.
The USMCA is also expected to have a major positive impact on American jobs, especially sectors important to Alabama such as manufacturing and agriculture.
Styslinger advised, “Over 12 million American jobs depend on the $1.4 trillion in trade between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.”
This is even more magnified in the Yellowhammer State.
Canada and Mexico purchase more than 33% of Alabama’s total global manufacturing exports, and over 20% of the state’s manufacturing firms export to the two countries. Most of these firms are small- and medium-sized businesses. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, skyward of 23,000 Alabama manufacturing jobs depend on exports to Canada and Mexico.
Top Alabama manufacturing exports to Canada and Mexico include: motor vehicles; iron and steel; motor vehicle parts; paper products; chemicals; engine, turbine and power transmission equipment; aluminum; aerospace products and parts; fabricated metal products and plastics.
“Implementing USMCA will significantly increase U.S. GDP, increase U.S. employment by a minimum of 176,000 jobs, increase U.S. exports to Canada by $19 billion and increase U.S. exports to Mexico by $14 billion,” Styslinger said. “The agreement will create jobs in the manufacturing sector and greatly benefit American workers, farmers and ranchers.”
“We call on the House to move quickly to finalize USMCA legislation and bring it to a vote as soon as possible,” he concluded.
A vote on the USMCA has been scheduled in the House for next week, however, the current impeachment inquiry into Trump driven by House Democrats might actually stall ratification in the Senate after that.
Assuming the two impeachment charges announced this week get enough Democratic votes to pass the House and Trump is indeed impeached, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already said he will not take up the USMCA until the impeachment trial has concluded in the upper chamber.
The USMCA now seems to be a true bipartisan agreement, having the support of both Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn