Trade issues continue to go unresolved as farmers and manufacturers face higher import and export tariffs with China.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence has been traveling the country pushing a trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Pence was in Wisconsin Wednesday to drum up support for the agreement.
In a crowded room at Uline – a shipping and packaging goods company headquartered in Pleasant Prairie — Pence made the Trump administration's case.
"Sitting on the desk of the speaker of the United States House of Representatives is the largest trade deal in American history," he said. "And I came to Wisconsin to say that it's time for Congress to enact the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and pass it this year!"
The pact would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). One aspect of the deal would increase the percentage of North American content in a car if it was to trade duty-free between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. Pence says the agreement would be good for the economy — and job creation.
Leaders of the three countries signed the agreement in November 2018, but only Mexico has ratified it. The Trump administration needs Congress to do that, something Pence pushed those attending his Wisconsin visit to have a hand in.
"I came here to turn up the heat on Congressman Ron Kind and the democrats in Congress and say, 'Wisconsin wants the USMCA.' That's your message," announced Pence.
But John Drew wants Wisconsinites to reject that message. He is former union president and current union activist. He spoke at a press conference of Wisconsin Democrats before the Pence event. He says there's an opportunity to rewrite NAFTA, but the proposed USMCA is not it.
"The new NAFTA that Pence says is so great does nothing to stop the movement of jobs to Mexico," said Drew. "It does not include adequate labor standards or enforcement provisions that would raise wages in Mexico. You can't have fair trade when Mexican workers are still being paid $2 an hour."
Drew said not one labor union supports the agreement in its present form.
The Democratic party of Wisconsin issued a statement, saying that Wisconsin had the third highest number of factory job layoffs over the past year of any state. It says the Trump administration's policies are hurting working people.