A Pivotal Moment for the Economy

By Congressman Adrian Smith

After nearly five years of delay and political gamesmanship the trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea finally passed the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support.  It was a pivotal moment for America’s economy.  With these agreements our economic and national security will be strengthened; and more opportunity will be created for our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and workers.

Markets around the world present tremendous opportunity because of their size, scope, and rate of growth.  Beyond our borders lie 73% of the world’s purchasing power, 87% of its economic growth and 95% of the globe’s consumers.  These trade agreements will enable businesses and workers here at home to take advantage of international consumers who want to purchase high-quality American products.

Since 2000, U.S. exports to the countries with which the United States has implemented trade agreements have grown almost twice as fast as our worldwide exports.  Trade agreements also are model economic stimulus packages because expanded trade creates jobs.  Approximately 42% of all U.S. jobs are connected to international trade, including 3 million manufacturing jobs and almost 4 million agricultural jobs.  It is estimated these newest trade agreements will create 250,000 jobs without requiring any new government spending.

While the national economic impact of trade is very important, increased trade specifically creates opportunity for Nebraska farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and other small businesses.  For example, Nebraska exported $5.7 billion in manufactured goods in 2010, which supported almost 20,000 jobs.  The recently approved agreements will enable Nebraska products and producers to increase these numbers.

These agreements also level the playing field for our businesses by providing a framework to reduce tariff imbalances.  American exporters face much higher tariffs and regulations on the goods and services they export to other countries than those countries face when exporting to the U.S.  For example, the average South Korean tariff for U.S. exports is more than four times the average tariff South Korean products face entering the U.S. market.

In addition to economic benefit, approval of these agreements will advance our national security interests.  Colombia, Panama, and South Korea are critical U.S. allies in volatile regions of the world. By ratifying these agreements, we are sending an important signal: we value our friends around the world, and in turn, strengthen our credibility and global leadership.

The global trade market represents tremendous opportunity for Nebraska and America.  Even though the agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea are now ratified, as a member of the Committee on Ways and Means and its Subcommittee on Trade I will continue to monitor the implementation process and remain committed to finding more opportunities to expand international markets.

For more information about this issue, the latest developments in Congress, or to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, please visit my website at http://adriansmith.house.gov.

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