[mccookgazette.com] Fair ~ 76°F  
High: 76°F ~ Low: 53°F
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pending trade agreements crucial for jobs and exports

Monday, June 21, 2010

Most of us go through our day without knowing where our food, drink, and other products come from, but it matters more than you might think. There's a decent chance that you're reading this with a cup of coffee or a soft drink; and there's a better chance that those coffee beans or that sugar came from Colombia. Most Colombian exporters pay no tariffs to sell to you in the American market; and exporters from Panama or South Korea receive similar treatment. But this is not the case for American goods sold into those three countries. Our exporters must pay as much as a 35 percent tariff, which makes it difficult for American products to compete. We've signed trade agreements with these three countries that would lower or eliminate these barriers, but regrettably, they sit idle on the shelf waiting for the President to send them to Congress.

As far back as 2006, representatives from the United States reached out to these countries and negotiated trade agreements that would level the playing field for American producers. The agreements were signed by both sides, but cannot go into effect until the President green-lights them to Congress, which must then vote to implement them. Farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and businesses are all waiting on the President to take such action, which he could do literally any day now. Yet the silence from the White House is deafening.

This silence became even more concerning earlier this month when the Economic Affairs Minister from the South Korean Embassy told a gathering of American pork producers, "The U.S. runs the risk of losing the Korean market within a decade if we can't get a free-trade agreement ratified." He went on to note that South Korea has been busy negotiating similar trade agreements with Canada and India, and expects to sign one with the European Union by January. Letting this opportunity pass us by would be a devastating and costly mistake.

The vast extent of these losses is projected in a recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which outlines two very different but significant consequences. First, the report estimates that American exports stand to increase by as much as $40 billion due directly to the implementation of these agreements. And secondly, should we fail to implement the pending agreements, it would mean the loss of American jobs -- as many as 380,000 jobs. To put this in perspective, our economy's private sector gained 41,000 jobs in May. If the economy continues to grow at the same pace, it would take until April of 2011 just to make up for the loss of jobs due to inaction on these trade agreements.

Earlier this year, President Obama committed his Administration to doubling U.S. exports by 2015. There cannot be a clearer path to help achieve this goal than the free trade agreements that are so close to the finish line. Our country's businesses, farms, and economy are waiting and hoping for the President to show the promised leadership to advance American trade.

Fact Check
See inaccurate information in this story?

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration:

Sen. Mike Johanns
Sen. Mike Johanns
U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns is a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Nebraska governor and Lincoln mayor.

Address: 404 Russell, Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-4224
Fax: (202) 228-0436

You may contact Senator Johanns by emailing mike_johanns@johanns.senate.gov. If you would like to receive a response from Senator Johanns, please ensure you include your name, full address, and phone number.