Job Creation and Economic Growth Through Passage of Free Trade Agreements

October 12, 2011

In times of economic uncertainty, it is imperative that we provide every opportunity possible for our economy to grow and expand. This includes acting on the three pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, each of which will provide direct economic benefits for our nation’s economy.

While virtually every industry in the U.S. can benefit from expanding exports, agriculture in particular prospers through new markets, as it is one of the most trade-dependent industries in the U.S. today. The agreements will put America's farmers and ranchers in a better position to compete globally, expand U.S. exports, create jobs, and bring much-needed income to communities across rural America.  

I delivered the following remarks last week in support of these agreements, which are set for consideration this week in the U.S. House 

To view these remarks, click below.  

Remarks as prepared: 

Mr. Speaker, today America's farmers and ranchers are competing in the global market in the face of stiff protectionism while their foreign competitors are gaining preferential treatment and access at the American people’s expense.

While the delay was unacceptably long and likely cost jobs, I am pleased the Obama Administration has finally done its part and sent Congress these important trade pacts – Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

Many agriculture products have encountered dramatic price fluctuations in recent years, particularly dairy, as a result of depressed exports.  

These trade agreements will expand U.S. exports, create jobs, and bring much-needed income to communities across rural America.  

These exports are increasingly important to Pennsylvania's agricultural and statewide economy.

Expanding these markets for our farmers, ranchers, and small businesses across the country is a critical component of future economic growth.

Overall, every sector of Pennsylvania agriculture stands to benefit from each trade agreement.  

Benefits to Pennsylvania under the U.S.-Korea FTA:

The U.S.-Korea FTA will benefit the Pennsylvania economy --- and create new jobs --- by immediately opening new access for Pennsylvania goods and services in Korea’s $1 trillion economy, and by establishing a level playing field in Korea for Pennsylvania workers and businesses to compete.

One half of chemical products, and many other manufactured goods produced in Pennsylvania, will enter Korea duty free immediately. Tariffs on the remaining chemical products will be eliminated over the next few years.

Korean duties on major Pennsylvania agricultural products --- such as grape juice, wine, and many dairy products --- will be eliminated immediately. Mushrooms will become duty free within 5 years.

Simplified and expedited customs procedures will enable Pennsylvania businesses to reach Korean customers more quickly and with less red tape.

Full implementation of the Korea trade agreement could generate nearly 280,000 new jobs --- including 9,963 in Pennsylvania (according to a January 2011 updated assessment of the agreement’s economic impact by U.S. International Trade Commission staff at the request of the Senate Finance Committee Trade Subcommittee).

Benefits to Pennsylvania under the U.S.-Columbia FTA:

Under the Colombia FTA, more than half of U.S. agricultural exports to Colombia will become duty-free immediately, and the remaining eliminated within 15 years.

Colombia will eliminate its price band system which affects key U.S. exports including corn, wheat, dairy, pork, and poultry.

Tariffs on $202 million in U.S. processed food product exports—which are currently as high as 20%—will be immediately eliminated.  

Colombia is actively pursuing and implementing FTAs with a number of other trading partners. With every day that we don’t act on this agreement, foreign competitors take market share from America’s farmers and ranchers.

Benefits to Pennsylvania under U.S.-Panama FTA:

Panama is one of the fastest expanding economies in Latin America, with 7.5% growth in 2010.

Panama is already an important market for America’s farmers and ranchers. In 2010, the United States exported more than $450 million of agricultural products to Panama.

More than half of U.S. agricultural exports to Panama will become duty free immediately; Remaining tariffs will be removed over 15 years

Panama’s tariffs on poultry range from 5 to 260%. Some of these will immediately drop to zero, and others will be phased out within 15 years.