Washington — Plastics and manufacturing trade groups praised the Nov. 30 signing of a new trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States, but some called on President Donald Trump to use the agreement to cancel tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Leaders of the three countries signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the replacement for Nafta, at the meeting of the G20 economic bloc in Buenos Aires.
While industry reaction was positive, with groups relieved that the long, contentious negotiations were able to maintain tariff-free trading among the countries, the American Chemistry Council called on Trump to eliminate all tariffs and quotas for steel and aluminum. ACC says the tariffs are raising costs for the industry's substantial investment boom in new U.S. facilities, fueled by shale gas.
"The Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum still cast a shadow over the zero-tariff philosophy of the USMCA," ACC said. "We urge President Trump to rescind all tariffs and avoid any quotas on steel and aluminum in order to maximize the job and economic growth made possible by the USMCA."
ACC noted that it supports the agreement, including an annex on chemical substances, covering regulatory cooperation in the trading bloc, and said it would advocate for strong investor-state dispute resolution language.
Three industry groups — the Plastics Industry Association in the United States, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association and the Asociacion Nacional de Industrias del Plastico in Mexico — issued a joint statement hailing the signing for providing certainty for business growth and innovation.
"We urge the legislatures of the U.S., Canada and Mexico to ratify this agreement and give the industry the certainty it needs to hire new workers and invest in the future," they said.
In a Spanish-language statement emailed to reporters Dec. 4, Anipac President Aldimir Torres said: “We're sure that USMCA will bring with it growth, innovation, sustainable development, more jobs and high-impact trade relationships to the [North American] plastics industry because the modernizing measures introduced are crucial and will trigger a stronger relationship impacting our continent and the rest of the world.”
He urged legislators in Mexico, the United States and Canada to ratify the deal to “reassure the industry, establish the confidence required for investments to be made and people hired and to propitiate an industry in the Americas, which is at the vanguard of technology [and is] sustainable and innovative.”
The Washington-based Window and Door Manufacturers Association also called on the Trump administration to revoke steel and aluminum tariffs, including those for Canada and Mexico.
The National Association of Manufacturers called on the U.S. Congress to approve the pact before the end of the year, and said that completing the agreement would give the U.S. more leverage in its trade talks with China.
"By securing the relationship with our North American allies, we are also better positioned to demonstrate a strong and united front against China's unfair trade practices and end the harm they inflict on manufacturers in America," NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said.