AUSTIN — The White House last week announced a preliminary new trade agreement had been secured between the United States and Mexico.

While details of the pact are forthcoming, the White House said the agreement would “create more reciprocal trade that grows the economy, supports high-paying jobs for American workers, protects American intellectual property” and “is a mutually beneficial win for North American farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses.”

Gov. Greg Abbott reacted on Aug. 27, saying, “Today’s agreement between the U.S. and Mexico is a step in the right direction. Texas is the nation’s top exporting state, and with Mexico being our largest trading partner, this new deal should be good for the Texas economy. Canada is our second-largest trade partner, and I remain hopeful that negotiations with Canada will be equally productive.”

The White House released a transcript of President Donald Trump and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico discussing what a new agreement between the two countries would require. Trump said cars imported from Mexico would have to contain a greater percentage of parts and equipment originating in North America. During their conversation, Nieto asked Trump to include Canada in the agreement, but Trump stopped short of making such a promise. 

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, hailed the prospect of a new trade agreement, saying, “This is a positive step and now we need to ensure the final agreement brings Canada into the fold and has bipartisan support. A trilateral agreement is the best path forward, and any modernized agreement should do no harm to states like Texas whose economy has seen the benefits of cross-border commerce. Millions of jobs in Texas depend on an updated NAFTA, and it’s important that we get this right.”

NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was signed during the Clinton administration and took effect Jan. 1, 1994.

Russell Boening, president of the Texas Farm Bureau, also welcomed the news, but emphasized that his organization wants Canada considered.  “The North American Free Trade Agreement has benefitted U.S. agriculture and we hope this new deal promotes even more trade with our neighbor to the south,” he said. "We hope Canada comes to the table soon and joins this agreement or enters into a new agreement with the U.S. on its own.” 

Campuses earn designations

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath on Aug. 28 announced that more than 400 campuses that achieved a “Met Standard” rating in the 2018 state accountability system also earned all distinction designations applicable to their individual school.

“Earning one or several campus-level distinctions is notable and should be applauded by a community as an outstanding achievement,” Morath said. “For a school to earn every potential distinction applicable to their campus is difficult, but a reflection of some truly amazing work by our educators,” he added.

Up to seven distinction designations can be earned for: Academic Achievement in English Language Arts/Reading; Academic Achievement in Mathematics; Academic Achievement in Science; Academic Achievement in Social Studies; Top 25 Percent: Comparative Academic Growth; Top 25 Percent: Comparative Closing the Gaps; and Postsecondary Readiness. 

Texas’ 2018 accountability ratings for school districts, charters and campuses statewide were released by the Texas Education Agency on Aug. 15. More information is available online at

Governor honors McCain

Gov. Abbott on Aug. 25 joined a long list of dignitaries and citizens offering condolences on the death of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, longtime member of Congress, former presidential candidate, U.S. Navy pilot and former prisoner of war. 

“John McCain was born to lead,” Abbott said in a news release. “Throughout his military career, his years of cruel imprisonment and torture as a prisoner of war, his decades of dedicated service in Congress, and his quest as a candidate for the highest office, his fighting spirit could not be broken. Though he often could have chosen the easier path in life, John McCain would never surrender his love of country. He was an American warrior. Cecilia and I ask the people of Texas and of his beloved nation to join us in prayer as we mourn the loss of a true statesman.” 

McCain, 81, died of glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, on Aug. 25. President Trump on Aug. 27 signed a proclamation for U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff until McCain’s burial.