I appreciate Vice President Pence for allowing governors to share our thoughts and concerns as our nation considers the future of NAFTA. The administration was clear that it wants to be able to negotiate a better NAFTA deal for American manufacturers and workers. The administration recognizes the importance of North American trade and prefers to modernize NAFTA under more fair terms that acknowledge the economic changes in the past 20 years.
I respect that negotiating position, but my message is that Arkansas must be able to continue its access to North American markets unimpeded by trade barriers. Otherwise, there will be serious harm to Arkansas agriculture, and retail and manufacturing sectors.
Continued cross-border trade with our North American partners is very important to our farmers and businesses. But as we consider trade agreements, and work toward fairness and modernization, we must remember the basic principle that we do no harm to our global trading relationships. It is clear that there is great potential for harm in Arkansas, especially to our farmers, if the United States reverses course regarding cross-border trade.
Canada is Arkansas’ number one customer and Mexico is our second largest customer.