Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus secured a major victory in his longstanding fight to implement job-creating Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with Colombia, South Korea and Panama today. Baucus successfully passed the agreements through the first round of approval in his Senate Finance Committee, which overseas international trade, and secured the inclusion of job training and support for American workers, firms and farmers negatively affected due to increased international competition.
"Every day we delay these trade agreements is another day American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses lose ground to competitors in other countries. While we stand still, the European Union's trade agreement with Korea entered into force last Friday, and Canada's agreement with Colombia will take effect next month, threatening to cut American farmers out of the wheat market altogether. We can't afford to put American jobs in jeopardy any longer," Baucus said.
"We thank Senator Baucus for his tireless efforts in promoting Montana agriculture worldwide and his leadership in approving these three outstanding FTA's. Montana exports 80 percent of its wheat production, and every overseas market is vital to Montana producers. These agreements will assure that U.S. farmers will remain competitive in the world market place," said Montana Grain Growers President Gordon Stoner.
"The Korea trade deal will help Montana ranchers sell more beef to Korea and it will reduce our costs of doing business there, so we can reinvest back into family farms and ranches across the state," said Montana Stockgrowers Executive Vice President Errol Rice. "This deal would not have been possible without Senator Baucus. Max refused to take no for an answer, and thanks to his persistence, Montana ranchers will have a fast growing Korean market to sell to when this deal is complete."
"Montana businesses are counting on these trade agreements to help us compete around the world and create jobs in Montana, and no one understands that better than Max Baucus. We thank Max for his dogged efforts to make these agreements work for Montana businesses and get them passed so we can get to work selling more Montana-made goods and service around the world," said President/CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce Webb Brown. "We also support the inclusion of job training support to make sure Montana businesses owners have the best, most skilled workforce to power our companies here in Montana."
Today's vote in the Finance Committee clears a major procedural hurdle for the legislation that implements the trade agreements, which can now be reviewed by the White House and sent back to Congress for an up or down vote.