Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
We have watched with growing concern the negotiations over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Our constituents, many of whom work in the motor vehicle industry, have benefited from more open trade around the world. For the automotive industry in particular, NAFTA has led to increased vehicle production in the United States, more secure jobs for those working in the industry, and a globally competitive U.S. motor vehicle industry that leads the world in innovation.
Last year, 13 automakers manufactured 12.2 million vehicles in the U.S. -- over one million more vehicles than were manufactured in the U.S. in the year before NAFTA took effect. The auto sector was the nation's leading manufactured goods exporter, shipping $137 billion in vehicles and parts to Mexico, Canada and the rest of the world. In 2016, autos represented 8% of the manufacturing sector's contribution to GDP on a value-added basis, investing $8 billion in U.S. plants and equipment, and nearly $20 billion in R&D. In total, the U.S. auto industry supports more than 7 million American jobs.
While we agree that NAFTA should be updated to help our companies better address the challenges of the 21st century economy, it should not be terminated. Unfortunately, it appears that several U.S. proposals under discussion in the NAFTA negotiations, including the U.S. motor vehicle rule of origin proposal, would eliminate the competitive advantages provided to the U.S. auto industry under the current NAFTA rules -- or lead to rejection by Canada and Mexico and the end of the agreement. Either outcome would adversely affect the U.S. auto industry - reducing sales, production, and exports and harming U.S. workers in the process.
The effort to update NAFTA should not be considered in a vacuum. Our companies and workers in the auto industry face steep international competition for jobs, sales, and innovation. The North American supply chain that NAFTA helped create is essential to the success of American companies in winning that competition. We urge that any proposals you offer, and any agreement you may reach with Canada and Mexico, benefit and strengthen the U.S. motor vehicle industry and the millions of American workers this sector supports.