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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Invites U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer To Discuss Impact of NAFTA, Tariffs, On Hispanic Community

Aug 31, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), Representative Tony Cardenas (CA-29), and Representative Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15),  sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer inviting him to meet with the CHC and discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), recent tariffs, and their effects on the business owners, families, farmers, and workers we proudly represent, as well as future plans for free trade agreements.

“Like you, we are committed to developing and supporting policies that will best promote American prosperity and leadership on the international stage. However, we are concerned that current policies neither reflect nor achieve these shared aspirations for our fellow Americans, particularly for Hispanics,” the Members wrote.

“President Trump’s tariffs are already taking a serious toll on businesses small and large in urban and rural areas, and could raise prices for consumers,” the Members continued, adding “we worry that the current tariffs could have lasting effects on some of our most important strategic and historic alliances.”

In addition to Reps. Gonzalez, Velázquez and Cardenas, the following members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus signed the letter: CHC Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham; CHC First Vice Chair Joaquin Castro; CHC Second Vice Chair Ruben Gallego; CHC Whip Pete Aguilar; CHC Freshman Representative Adriano Espaillat.

 

TEXT OF LETTER

 

August 31, 2018

The Honorable Robert E. Lighthizer
United States Trade Representative
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

We write to invite you to meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) regarding the administration’s trade policy. We are particularly interested in discussing your outlook for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), recent tariffs, and their effects on the business owners, families, farmers, and workers we proudly represent, as well as future plans for free trade agreements.

Like you, we are committed to developing and supporting policies that will best promote American prosperity and leadership on the international stage. However, we are concerned that current policies neither reflect nor achieve these shared aspirations for our fellow Americans, particularly for Hispanics. President Trump’s tariffs are already taking a serious toll on businesses small and large in urban and rural areas, and could raise prices for consumers. Our country is experiencing blowback in the form of retaliation tariffs on a variety of agricultural and manufactured products, including soybeans, beef, pork, and chicken. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon begin authorizing up to $12 billion in short-term relief for affected producers, we need a long-term plan to recapture market access, mend fences, and keep rural America in business.

In that same vein, we worry that the current tariffs could have lasting effects on some of our most important strategic and historic alliances. The President cited Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allows the U.S. to impose tariffs on foreign countries if they “threaten to impair the national security”. This has alarmed Mexico and Canada, two close allies. It remains difficult for most to argue in good faith that importing steel and aluminum from our two close allies could reasonably impair U.S. national security. Similarly, while there has been recent progress on U.S.-Mexico trade, remaining uncertainty surrounding the timeline for and content of a final NAFTA package, in addition to the participation of Canada, continues to give many community and business leaders pause.

This administration’s approach to world markets significantly impacts the ability of small, medium-sized, and minority-owned businesses to operate in global markets, and can help or hurt Latino communities as well as our relationships in Latin America and beyond. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is now more essential than ever that we give American businesses and workers the tools they need to compete in the global marketplace. Whether it is dedicated entrepreneurs or small business owners, we owe all those striving to achieve the American Dream access to the markets and resources they need to survive – and thrive.

We appreciate your attention to this request and look forward to meeting with you to discuss these challenges, your plans to address them, and potential opportunities to move forward in the best interests of our constituents. To confirm your availability, please contact CHC Executive Director Alma Acosta at alma.acosta@mail.house.gov. 

Sincerely,

 

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.