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Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Miami International Airport

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Introduced by Ken Pyatt, Deputy Director of the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department. 

Thank you, Ken, for the kind introduction.

Thank you all for being here today. And a special thank you to Eduardo Torres and your team at the U.S. Export Assistance Center of South Florida for all you do for the business community in this region of the country.

On behalf of President Trump, I am delighted to discuss the virtues of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and what it means to businesses and the export community here in South Florida. I see that the Florida Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the agreement, and has urged Congress to ratify the pact. We thank you for that support.

But before I talk about USMCA, just earlier today, the Commerce and Treasury Department took further steps to holding Cuba accountable. 142,721 Americans took cruise ships to Cuba during the first four months of 2019. Cuba will no longer receive those tourist dollars. I am sure that the cruise ship community will find alternate destinations for those passengers. Our Administration recognizes the threat of Cuba’s communist government, and the Commerce Department will limit commercial activity that provides revenue for the Cuban regime. We must continue to hold other countries accountable and remain vigilant. 

And now let me shift over to the core of my visit, the Florida economy. Not long ago there was a sense of despair, as hundreds of manufacturers closed their Florida operations and shifted production offshore and, the housing market collapsed. President Trump has done this by implementing a coordinated set of pro-business economic policies that are turning the United States into a jobs machine.

We’ve cut unnecessary regulations that discourage and delay investment in new plants and equipment. After decades of discussion, we have finally instituted a globally competitive corporate tax code.

Florida families will enjoy a $198 billion annual tax reduction. For a typical family of four earning $73,000, this meant a $2,000 reduction last year.

We are committed to training a new generation of skilled workers. Already, 217 employers have signed the President’s Pledge to America’s Workers, committing to provide education, training opportunities, and apprenticeships to 8.9 million American workers over the next five years. And we have finally gotten tough on trading partners who refuse to abide by the global rules of trade.

The results of our “America First” economic policies have been impressive. Since Election Day, nearly 6 million new jobs have been created, including 454,000 here in Florida. The national unemployment rate is at a nearly 50-year low, Florida is even below the national average and the Miami area is still even better. The unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanic Americans is the lowest ever recorded.

We just had 13 months in a row where there are more job openings than Americans looking for jobs. Wages are rising at the fastest pace in more than 10 years. First-quarter economic growth was up 3.1 percent, the first time since 2015 that seasonally weak quarter GDP topped 3 percent.

And, unlike the last administration when 200,000 manufacturing jobs were lost, companies across the nation have created almost 500,000 good-paying jobs in factories, including more than 20,000 in Florida. Each one of these manufacturing jobs creates many others in supply chains and in local communities.

Miami’s economy is relatively unique in that 60 percent is tourism-related. Also, 59 percent of Miami’s population was born outside of the U.S. a great advantage in terms of international trade. 

A big part of the President’s economic growth strategy is rebalancing trade. We are doing this by negotiating trade agreements that benefit American producers and their workers. 

The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is the largest trade deal in American history. 

It directly attacks the colossal $81.5-billion trade deficit in goods the United States has with Mexico, and the $19.7 billion trade deficit in goods with Canada. And it will be a big win for companies, farmers, and workers throughout Florida. Most people don’t know what is in the deal, but the details — and their implications for American companies — are stunning.

USMCA eliminates many practices and trade barriers that have long hindered U.S.-companies’ access to the Mexican and Canadian markets. There are important new chapters on Digital Trade; IPR Protection; Anticorruption; Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises; Currency Manipulation; State-Owned Enterprises; and Good Regulatory Practices. The new chapter on digital trade includes rules that allow data to be transferred freely across borders, and prohibits protectionist limits on the location of data storage and processing. This is a big win for U.S. companies that operate internationally.

The new chapter on Intellectual Property includes tough enforcement provisions against counterfeiting and piracy. There are new tools for customs officials to use to impede the flow of counterfeit goods and fakes through our borders. USMCA establishes 10 years of data protection for both biologics and agricultural chemical products, giving American innovators 10 years of market protection against third parties.

The new trade agreement promotes export growth by reducing the costs of cross-border transactions. It allows traders to submit and receive customs-related documentation and data through one website in each country. 

Once customs requirements are met, goods must be released immediately, thereby cutting the red tape that currently delays shipments. Canada and Mexico will be required to publish information on all fees and penalties they assess on products imported from the United States. This will allow American companies to better predict trade-related costs before they export.

Express shipments valued below $2,500 will benefit from reduced paperwork requirements, making low-value shipments easier, faster, and less costly for traders. Along these lines, both Canada and Mexico increased their de-minimis shipment-value levels, allowing lower-value packages to enter their countries from the United States without having to pay taxes and tariffs, and with simplified customs forms. USMCA ends Canada’s barriers to U.S. exports of agricultural products.

It ends the unfair conditions that put U.S. workers in competition with low-wage, low-standard labor by including fully enforceable labor and environmental obligations.

It requires that 40 to 45 percent of automotive content be made by workers earning an average base wage of at least $16 an hour. This will ensure that the U.S. gets its fair share of the annual production volume.

For the first time, we have a trade agreement that addresses unfair currency practices that put U.S. producers at a competitive disadvantage. The undervaluation of currency is an issue that has been talked about since the early 2000s, and we are finally doing something about it.

Importantly, the USMCA updates the rules-of-origin for automobiles by requiring that 75 percent of the content of vehicles be produced in North America. This provision alone should create tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. automotive sector.

New rules-of-origin apply to other industrial products as well, increasing the regional content of chemicals, steel-intensive products, titanium, glass, and optical fiber. These new rules will ensure that only producers who use sufficient amounts of U.S.- or regionally made parts or materials receive preferential tariff benefits.

USMCA has a separate annex dealing with regulatory cooperation in important sectors, including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, information and communications technologies, and cosmetics. 

Another annex — which is intended to protect the innovation of encryption products — is viewed as a significant achievement by the U.S. high tech industry.

All of these provisions are new. They have never been part of any U.S. trade agreement before. We will be using them as a starting point for deals with countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and elsewhere. We negotiated USMCA with the intent of preserving Mexico and Canada as the largest export markets for U.S. products.

Last year, $1.3 trillion of goods flowed among the three countries, supporting close to 3 million U.S. jobs. In Florida alone, exports to Mexico and Canada totaled $7.1 billion last year. And the Miami - Fort Lauderdale - West Palm Beach metropolitan area accounted for most of this trade, $3.6 billion. 

Given your location in the world, Miami is one of the best places in the country from which to export. Miami International Airport offers more flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than any other U.S. airport, and it is the third busiest airport in the country for international travelers.

More than 100 air carriers operate from MIA, offering passenger and freight services to more than 160 cities on four continents. The airport alone is the leading economic engine for Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida, generating business revenue of $31 billion annually. The airport has a huge capacity for handling exports, with 3.4 million square feet of cargo facilities. 

It is also is an important hub for tourism activity, and serves the booming cruise ship industry located here. In fact, Port Miami served 5.6 million cruise ship passengers last year, with an amazing 1,220 dockings, an average of almost 4 per day. Miami’s growing container ship traffic benefits from it being the closest East Coast deep water container port to the Panama Canal.

All-in-all, Florida is supremely well positioned to take advantage of the new export opportunities presented by the USMCA.

The United States Trade Representative made the requisite filing with the House of Representatives on May 30th. So, the process of congressional passage has started.

I am pleased to note that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a bill in Canada’s House of Commons on May 29th to implement the USMCA. And President Lopez Obrador sent the Agreement to the Mexican Senate on May 30th. Yesterday, Mexico’s Minister of the Economy and their Ambassador to the U.S., met with me to discuss the immigration problem. We will have another meeting at the State Department tomorrow. Hopefully, we can work out a sensible solution to the border crisis and minimize the economic fallout.

Finally, in the United States, we are hoping to get broad bipartisan support to ratify the USMCA this summer. It is truly a great deal for American companies, workers, farmers and ranchers.

I look forward to working with you to see the USMCA signed, sealed, and delivered. Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.

Leadership