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Wednesday, January 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Spokane-area economists react to new trade agreement

UPDATED: Wed., Dec. 11, 2019

Antonio Ibarra holds an apple he picked on Friday, October 20, 2017, in orchard north of Manson, Wash. Washington producers are optimistic but many questions remain after new trade deals were signed this week with China, Canada and Mexico. (Tyler Tjomsland / TYLER TJOMSLAND/The Spokesman-Review)
Antonio Ibarra holds an apple he picked on Friday, October 20, 2017, in orchard north of Manson, Wash. Washington producers are optimistic but many questions remain after new trade deals were signed this week with China, Canada and Mexico. (Tyler Tjomsland / TYLER TJOMSLAND/The Spokesman-Review)

Both President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are calling the revamped North American trade pact – the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement – a win.

“There is no question of course that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in announcing the agreement on Tuesday.

Economic observers reached Tuesday in Spokane were also positive, though less enthusiastic, in their assessment of the trade deal.

Ryan Herzog, Gonzaga University associate professor of economics, said USMCA was “not a massive revolutionary trade deal.”

“I think most economists will say it’s just 1994 NAFTA redone,” Herzog said. “The first NAFTA deal is 25 years old, it was time for an update, and that’s really what this was.”

However, there is value in stability.

“Why I think the resolve is a good deal is more tied to the uncertainty of not having a trade deal and some of the concerns that had on businesses,” Herzog said.

Leaders from Greater Spokane Inc. echoed this sentiment. Melisa Paul, GSI Agribusiness council director, said people are excited to have an agreement in place.

“It started to appear a little political, and I think we’re just excited to be on the other side,” Paul said.

Cara Coon, GSI vice president for communications and public affairs, said everyone has been waiting patiently for USMCA, noting Congress can “move past working on this particular agreement and on to other agreements.”

The deal is good news for Washington’s apple growers, said Rebecca Lyons, Washington Apple Commission international marketing director.

“Last season Mexico and Canada accounted for almost half of all Washington apple export volume and having a new agreement in place to maintain access to our number one and number two export markets is definitely positive for the industry,” Lyonssaid in an email.

Herzog noted most trade uncertainty is tied up in China, and the USMCA might be a distraction from the 15% tariffs by the Trump administration.

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