New Jersey is a state that depends on trade. We are the 13th-largest exporter in the country, leaning heavily on our ability to reach customers outside of the United States to power our economy. The high-quality goods our workers create – from fresh produce to specialized computer equipment to pharmaceuticals – reach communities around the world. And it’s something we are very proud of.
Manufacturing accounts for 90 percent of all New Jersey exports, according to Choose: New Jersey. And that is no surprise since our state is a manufacturing stronghold housing some of the largest manufacturing companies in the world, including Novartis, Anheuser-Busch, Campbell Soup Co., and more.
But to protect our position as a leader in manufacturing and exports and to sustain the dynamic New Jersey economy, Congress must come together to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Leaders from the U.S., Canada and Mexico signed off on the agreement last November. Mexico has ratified the USMCA, and Canada has pledged to follow suit. Now, it’s our turn. The Garden State depends on it.
North American trade is increasingly important to our state. Last year, Canada and Mexico accounted for $9.5 billion in total manufactured good exports and supported over 15,000 well-paying jobs across the state, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. And this didn’t happen overnight. It’s a cumulative result that was only realized after 25 years of stable, tariff-free trading partnerships as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
With the USMCA in place to update and modernize NAFTA to fit the needs of the 21st-century economy, we can expect these upward economic trends to continue. But if we allow the trade agreement to stall any longer, the consequences could be catastrophic in an already-volatile global economy.
Currently, U.S. businesses face no tariffs when trading with Canada and Mexico. However, without a strong, 21st-century trade deal established, manufacturers in New Jersey could be hit with $1.2 billion in extra taxes. This extreme burden on our businesses will without a doubt create deep problems throughout the state, putting our large and small businesses at a competitive disadvantage globally. At a time when our nation needs more well-paying American jobs, these tariffs could have drastic effects on the long-term viability of our economy.
As any Garden State resident can tell you, manufacturing is a central part of everyday life in New Jersey. Their facilities line our streets, especially in Morris County, they support our communities, and they provide our residents with secure, career-track jobs. Generations of manufacturing workers and their families have enjoyed success in our state due to New Jersey’s trading practices. That needs to continue.
This is how we have brought prosperity to our state, and the USMCA is how that prosperity will continue for years to come.
Michael Inganamort is a partner at ASG Advisors and Council President in Chester Township.