Kuster meets with NH, Canadian leaders on USMCA trade deal

HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) Trade talks took place in Hanover, New Hampshire Wednesday. Specifically, the free trade agreement between the United States, Mexico, Canada -- known as the USMCA. Industry experts are urging lawmakers in Washington to get it done.

Business leaders from the United States and Canada came together to discuss cross-border trade, a relationship for the New England states alone, that's worth billions of dollars annually.

Officials with the New England-Canada Business Council say big money is at stake and they fully support the new free trade agreement which would modernize NAFTA.

"And getting very much involved in technology and data, intellectual capital, intellectual property," said the council's Jon Sorenson.

Dairy, car and snow mobile parts, electricity, maple syrup, and much more cross the border every single day into our region. President Trump signed the USMCA last year but it has yet to be ratified by Congress.

"The issue is it's become very political obviously," Sorenson said.

"Part of the issue with the original NAFTA is we ended up losing a lot of jobs, even right here in New Hampshire -- jobs that were transferred down to Mexico," said Rep. Annie Kuster, D-New Hampshire.

Kuster says negotiations surrounding the trade agreement are ongoing. She says her constituents are focused on two main areas. "Number one is enforcement -- that is very important. We also have concerns about the environmental chapter," she said.

"The ability to be able to move that very easily, efficiently is important," said Clayton Gould with GEOKON, a technology manufacturer based in Lebanon that does a lot of business in Canada. He says any uncertainty in the market can impact a company's bottom line. "Anytime tariffs come into play it can make our products more expensive than others."

GEOKON employs about 100 people, just a fraction of the overall jobs that are connected to international commerce.

"20,000 jobs in New Hampshire are dependent upon international trade," Kuster said.

She says that Congress is making progress when it comes to the USMCA and she expects a full vote by the end of the year.