For a more robust Illinois economy, we need better trade deal across North America

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would open up new markets for Illinois goods and create thousands of new jobs.

SHARE For a more robust Illinois economy, we need better trade deal across North America
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Corn is harvested in the Illinois River bottoms across from Beardstown, Illinois. AP File Photo/Jacksonville Journal-Courier, Steve Warmowski

Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, most American voters agree that politics shouldn’t get in the way of good policy.

Good policy doesn’t discriminate between a voter who is more conservative or more progressive — especially one that will improve market access for U.S. farmers, create more good-paying jobs and benefit many hard-working families across Illinois and the country.

Yet, that’s exactly what some members of Congress appear to be doing.

With the legislative calendar winding down and the presidential election season ramping up, playing politics could soon mean “game over” for those who depend on sound trade policy in North America.

Illinois voters need to send their elected officials a message: If you support Illinois’ farmers, working families and factory workers, then you must support the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Illinois’ economy relies on trade across North America. For example, Canada and Mexico purchase more than two-fifths of the Prairie State’s total global manufacturing exports.

Canada and Mexico are big purchasers of substantial portions of Illinois’ foreign sales of major manufactured goods, which supports good-paying factory jobs across our state.

Companies like Blount International and others across the equipment manufacturing industry support nearly 120,000 above-average paying jobs across Illinois.

It’s not just current jobs at stake: According to the International Trade Commission, the USMCA can add more than $68 billion to the U.S. economy and can create 176,000 new jobs.

The USMCA will also benefit working families, U.S. farmers and American small businesses by improving North American trade policy in several ways.

It will open Canada’s market to more U.S. agricultural exports; establish rules for e-commerce, allowing manufacturers and customers to better share data; and strengthen labor and environmental protections.

The USMCA will even help small businesses by updating customs and trade rules to cut red tape and make it easier to participate in cross-border trade with Canadian and Mexican customers.

For all these reasons and more, it’s no surprise then that polls show American voters support Congress passing the USMCA by a wide margin.

Jerry Johnson, president, Farm, Ranch & Agriculture Division of Blount International

Stop giving Lightfoot the benefit of the doubt

Marlen Garcia, thanks for your on-target column about Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

I sent a donation to Lightfoot’s campaign, but am surprised by the persistence of her unforced gaffes.

The Sun-Times has been gentle with the new mayor. That’s fine. I hope she takes your polite hint and starts learning from experience and maybe associating with savvier advisors.

The benefit of the doubt won’t last much longer.

Ron Meyer, Wilmette

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