Albert Zapanta, President & CEO of the USMCOC, Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) provided welcoming remarks. Sessions and Cuellar commented that, despite having political differences, they shared a mutual interest in modernizing, but retaining The NAFTA Agreement in order to support the economies of not only Texas and the U.S., but also of Mexico and Canada. They noted the benefits for the U.S. in having prosperous neighbors. The Congressmen said that U.S. Congress, with industry input, can signal to the Trump Administration what an improved and modernized NAFTA should look like.
Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security, also discussed the need for NAFTA modernization. While advocating for stronger and modernized trade with Canada and Mexico, McCaul also spoke of improving border security by coordinating the implementation of newer border technology with additional infrastructure where needed.
Sergio Garcia Gomez, representing the Economic Section of the Mexican Embassy, stated the importance of recognizing how intertwined manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism are between the three countries, noting that the U.S. gains $20 billion/year in tourism from Mexico and that for many individual U.S. states, Mexico is their largest trading partner.
From the Canadian Embassy, Colin Bird, Minister-Counselor for Trade and Economic Policy cited the 7-fold trade increase with the U.S. over the years as well as Canada’s growth in trade and tourism with Mexico. He criticized the U.S. demands for a 5-year sunset clause and changes to the dispute settlement process as “short-term thinking”, but did say Canada was more in line with U.S. requests on ‘rules of origin’ in order to bring jobs back.