ALBANY — New York's largest business organization is urging the state's congressional delegation to support a trade deal with Mexico and Canada that is being negotiated by President Donald Trump's administration.
The Business Council of New York State, in a letter this week to New York's 27 House members and two U.S. senators, contended the agreement will help keep jobs in New York state while eliminating "stringent and unnecessary barriers" for farmers seeking to export products to Canada and Mexico.
Citing U.S. Chamber of Commerce statistics, the council said about 800,000 New York jobs are supported by trade with the two border nations.
"Increasingly, our member companies are engaged in and dependent on foreign trade for their success, exporting finished products to consumer markets, and receiving imported materials and parts," the letter stated.
Joining in the push are more than 50 companies and associations, many of them with a presence in the upstate region. They include: International Paper Co.; the Buffalo Niagara Partnership; North Country Savings Bank; the New York Farm Bureau; Price Chopper Supermarkets/Market 32; and the Manufacturers Association of Central New York.
Congress is expected to take up the proposed agreement in September.
Some congressional Democrats have suggested that the deal will have to be amended with strengthened environmental and labor protections.
At a stop in Iowa this week, Vice President Mike Pence called the proposal "a model for other trade agreements," the Des Moines Register reported.
The deal, known as the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement, would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The latter deal has governed North American trade for 25 years.
The agreement, as structured, has already been embraced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville. She said the plan to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum would be beneficial to the economy in her district, pointing out the region is the home of the nation's oldest aluminum smelter.
Meanwhile, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Niagara Falls/Buffalo, is weighing the details of the document and hopes to see "meaningful provisions on enforcement, workers' rights and environmental protection," said his spokeswoman, Theresa Kennedy.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, did not reply to emailed requests for comments. A telephone number she provided to reporters was not answered.
Mexico ratified the agreement last month, becoming the first nation to do so.
The deal was negotiated after Trump threatened to withdraw from NAFTA if he could not get better trade terms for the United States.
Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach him at email@example.com.