Fred Lampropoulos: Congress, it’s time to innovate U.S. trade deals. Pass the USMCA.

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Vice President Mike Pence takes a tour at Merit Medical with Fred Lampropoulos, Merit Medical chairman and CEO, on Aug. 22, 2019.

Merit Medical Systems has been committed to improving lives in Utah and across North America since our founding in 1987. What began as a Utah-based company with one simple product has grown into a multinational company that employs more than 5,000 people in North America and does business in roughly 120 countries.

Our life-saving work would not be possible without free and fair trade. Because of trade, we have the ability to move products freely across North America. Without free and fair trade, Merit Medical Systems would not be the successful business we are today. Our business, Utah, and the nation cannot risk losing access to these important customers and markets.

That’s why we need Congress to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or the USMCA. The USMCA would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an agreement the U.S. signed with Mexico and Canada 25 years ago. When it was enacted, NAFTA was key to lowering trade barriers with our North American neighbors, creating enforceable trading rules and accessing new markets for American-made goods and services. But that was a quarter of a century ago. It is time for an update.

The USMCA brings America’s economic relationship with Canada and Mexico into the 21st century. This new agreement strengthens NAFTA’s market-opening provisions for key industries, such as agriculture and manufacturing, and establishes a modern roadmap for digital trade across our continent.

So, what does this mean for Utah? Vice President Mike Pence recently visited us at Merit Medical Systems to see first-hand how much prosperity the USMCA would bring to our community. By taking the time to meet with our hard-working employees and seeing how we operate, it’s clear Pence knows just how much Utah stands to gain from the passage of the USMCA.

In 2017, Utah businesses exported more than $2.7 billion worth of goods and services to Canada and Mexico, and more than 121,400 Utah workers support these trade partnerships. The updated USMCA will create a level playing field for Utah exporters and protect our hardest workers.

The USMCA is also a win for our small businesses. Whether it’s a local mom and pop shop or an online business that buys and sells goods from around the world, the USMCA will help them prosper. By establishing 21st century rules for doing business online, small businesses will have more access to customers in Canada and Mexico, leading to more sales and higher profits.

The USMCA would protect the work of American innovators, promote more research and create jobs. Streamlining the process innovators must go through to obtain intellectual property protection would continue to encourage folks to think big without the fear of competitors getting a hand on their ideas. Merit Medical Systems relies on innovative research daily, and the USMCA would ensure we can stay on the cutting edge of lifesaving technology.

Even though the USMCA is a win for Utah’s workers and job creators, some lawmakers are withholding their support because they did not get everything they wanted in this agreement. The fact is, neither political party got everything it wanted, and that is proof that the USMCA is a common-sense agreement that will benefit American workers and job creators. It will be difficult for any lawmaker to explain why they do not support it.

In Utah, free and fair trade with Canada and Mexico is creating new, good-paying jobs and helping folks climb the economic ladder. Utah’s lawmakers in Washington, D.C., recognize the USMCA’s incredible benefits to Utah and the nation. It’s time for other members of Congress to put politics aside and put us first.

Fred P. Lampropoulos is the chairman and CEO of the Utah-based Merit Medical Systems, a manufacturer and marketer of disposable medical devices.