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New Trade Deal With Mexico Could Be Good News For Kansas Companies

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Logo of the NAFTA Secretariat of North American Free Trade Agreement

A Kansas trade expert says a new U.S. trade agreement with Mexico could help grow Kansas companies and the economy of south-central Kansas.

Karyn Page, president of Kansas Global Trade Services, says the tentative agreement announced Monday is a sign that trade negotiations are moving forward.

Representatives from the U.S., Mexico and Canada began talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) more than a year ago. The trilateral trade pact was implemented in 1994 to eliminate barriers to trade and investment.

“I think that the renegotiation of NAFTA just for the modernization will be valuable for Kansas companies,” Page says. “There’s stuff that we deal with today that didn’t exist when NAFTA was created and implemented nearly 25 years ago.”

Mexico and Canada remain Kansas’ two biggest trading partners. She says according to 2017 data, the Wichita area ranks third in the nation for the most export-dependent economy.

The preliminary agreement would end NAFTA and replace it with an accord that is intended to encourage more manufacturing in the United States.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in news releases the trade deal with Mexico sets new rules for manufacturing, labor and agriculture, and standards for intellectual property and digital trade.

Page says reciprocal trade between Kansas companies and the two countries is worth billions each year.

“It’s just not about what we’re selling to Canada and Mexico; it’s about an integrated supply chain with long-established partnerships that help our companies to create valuable goods and sell them all over the world,” Page says.

The preliminary agreement announced Monday is far from final. The administration still needs to negotiate with the third partner in NAFTA, Canada, to become part of any new trade accord. Even after being formally signed, it would have to be approved by lawmakers in each country.

Some of Kansas’ congressional delegation released statements Monday in support of the tentative trade deal with Mexico.

Sen. Jerry Moran says the agreement should be reviewed and modernized.

“Kansas is an export state, and our ability to make a living is directly tied to our ability to export the goods we grow and manufacture," Moran says in the statement. "This initial agreement between the United States and Mexico is a needed step in beginning to inject certainty back into our trade policies; still, we must re-engage Canada — the top export market for Kansas in 2017 — to reach a trilateral consensus."

Rep. Ron Estes called the agreement great news for Kansas farmers and manufacturers.

“Trade with Mexico through NAFTA has been beneficial to Kansas’ Fourth District, especially to our farmers and aerospace manufacturers," Estes says in the statement. "However, the more than 20-year-old trade agreement was outdated and in desperate need of modernization. Today’s agreement signals a major breakthrough in these efforts and includes an agreement by Mexico to purchase more agriculture products from the U.S."

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.