DeMint Votes to Expand American Exports
Free Trade Agreement with Central America Passes Senate
June 30th, 2005 - Washington, D.C. - Fighting to expand American exports, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C..) today voted in favor of S. 1307, the Dominican Republic-Central America-United State Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. The Agreement, known as CAFTA, passed the Senate with bipartisan support on a 54-45 vote. CAFTA expands the market for U.S. goods with 44 million consumers in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
"CAFTA will help manufacturers in South Carolina as well as farmers and ranchers," said Senator DeMint. "Most goods from these countries enter the U.S. tax-free, yet American exports are virtually taxed across the board. CAFTA will level the playing field by eliminating 80 percent of the tariffs on American exports immediately, and phasing out the remaining tariffs over 10 years."
According to a recent economic impact study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in the first year alone CAFTA would increase output in South Carolina by $167 million and create over 900 new jobs. In nine years, the study shows a potential increase in output across all industries of $701 million and the creation of over 6,000 jobs.
"If we want the best jobs in the world, we have to make America the best place in the world to do business," said Senator DeMint. "CAFTA will expand American exports, help our workers compete on a level playing field, and improve the business environment in South Carolina."
The South Carolina State Ports Authority says CAFTA will contribute to greater economic development in South Carolina by stimulating commerce and the shipment of freight. In 2004, Central America represented $359 million of the total value of business at the Port of Charleston. In fact, Charleston's exports to Central America have grown faster than the average export growth.
Over 80 percent of the U.S. textile industry supports CAFTA because garment factories in Central America purchase large amounts of American fabric and yarn. Under CAFTA, these garments made in the region will be duty-free and quota-free only if they use U.S. fabric and yarn. In fact, more than 90 percent of all apparel made in the region will be sewn from fabric and yarn made in the United States, thereby supporting U.S. textile exports and U.S. textile jobs.
The American Apparel and Footwear Association, which backs the Agreement, recently sent a letter to President Bush saying that CAFTA "is not enacted soon, U.S. apparel and footwear companies will place more of their business outside this hemisphere."
"Without CAFTA, the U.S. textile industry will continue to lose business to Asia," said Senator DeMint. "A vote against CAFTA is a vote for China."