On Friday September 6th, 2019, the World Trade Center – Kansas City (WTC-KC) held a roundtable discussion on the importance of the United States Congress ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The participants included Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, MO-5th District, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Missouri farmers and executives of some of the largest businesses in the region (KC Southern, Hallmark, Garmin, Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell and Boulevard Brewing).
The day started with KC Southern hosting the legislators and farmers on a grain tour of western Missouri on their Southern Belle train. They used this grain train to highlight the importance of trade for one of the largest sectors in the Kansas City regional economy, agriculture. Missouri agriculture products exported to Canada and Mexico amounted to $452 million in 2017 and USMCA offers greater market access for key Missouri agriculture sectors. The farmers made it apparent to all aboard that tariffs hinder their livelihood.
The attendees deboarded at Union Station for the roundtable on USMCA. The CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and World Trade Center – Kansas City, Joe Reardon, welcomed the group and opened the conversation to discuss the impact of tariffs and importance of a trade agreement in North America. Reardon reiterated the KC Chamber and WTC-KC’s position against tariffs on behalf of the regional business community they represent.
Engineering firms Black & Veatch and Burns & McDonnell do not export products, but they do export and import services and people. They depend on NAFTA and now USMCA for work visas and the easy movement of people across the Canadian border. Garmin shared the need for an end to tariffs for the overall health of the US economy. Hallmark noted the impact for US consumers that would hurt everyone—they import materials from China and export their final product all over the world. All the businesses unequivocally advocated for the ratification of the USMCA agreement.
Both legislators listened to the feedback and shared their support of fair free trade without barriers. Congressman Cleaver informed the group that he was on a conference call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who unambiguously acknowledged the importance of USMCA and is working to address concerns about the protection of American workers and the environment in the deal. The roundtable was open to media and successfully conveyed the importance of North American free trade to the greater Kansas City region.