Since its creation 20 years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement has helped to nearly quadruple trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico, supporting 14 million U.S. jobs.
Also, Canada and Mexico are the top two export destinations for American small businesses, which are a critical part of our economy.
The economic opportunities created by NAFTA are especially important in my home state of Florida, where international trade and foreign investment create one out of every six jobs.
In addition, merchandise trade between the U.S. and Canada totals nearly $9 billion per year, with Canada ranking as the world's third largest consumer of Florida-made goods.
NAFTA is the world's largest free trade area, and its success reminds us that our nations must see each other not as competitors, but as partners for prosperity.
But there is more work to be done.
As we continue looking for ways to get our economy back on track and create American jobs, we must reaffirm our commitment to strong regional trade and exercise leadership to reap the full benefits of NAFTA.
In many sectors, the NAFTA nations are still acting more as competitors rather than partners, and this prevents us from realizing the full benefits of this trade agreement.
We must continue to further integrate our economies in mutually beneficial ways, and especially in order to create more American jobs.
Next month the leaders of the three NAFTA countries will attend a summit in Mexico, and this is an opportunity to strengthen and update NAFTA.
Also, changes should be made in order to update this agreement with technology having changed significantly in the last 20 years:
While there are new opportunities, there are also new challenges that weren't there 20 years ago, such as China's entry into the Hemisphere.
This is why we must ensure that we remain competitive in the face of new, cheaper imports from China.