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Free Trade Agreeements

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

``If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the opportunity to create jobs on our shores.'' That was President Obama, President Obama in January of 2010, recognizing the importance of trade agreements to creating jobs in the United States.

Today, the President finally submitted to Congress, over a year and a half later, he finally submitted to Congress three critical trade agreements for our approval. Because of what these trade agreements mean for job creators, this is welcome news. But the fact that these three trade agreements, one of which was signed nearly a half decade ago, have been stalled for so long cannot go unnoticed.

Korea, the Korean trade agreement was signed on June 30, 2007. But that South Korean agreement is not the only one. The one with Panama was signed in June of 2007, and the one with Colombia, November of 2006.

President Obama even stated on July 8 of 2011 and during his August tour through the Midwest that all three of the trade agreements would be law by now if it weren't just for that obstructionist Congress. He said that the deals are something ``Congress could do right now.'' Well, that's not true. It wasn't true then. We couldn't pass the agreements because they were still on his desk waiting to be sent to Congress. Well, we're glad they're here now, and we will join the President in moving quickly on these agreements.

While we have waited on President Obama to act on these long-pending, job-creating export agreements, our foreign competitors--Europe and Canada, in particular--are rapidly increasing their market share and cultivating relationships with trading partners in those countries while American businesses sit on the sidelines.

Make no mistake: More American exports mean more American jobs.

In my home State of Arkansas and in the Second Congressional District, these trade agreements will be very helpful for job creation. Arkansas unemployment is above 8 percent, and we need pro-job creation policies in Washington to stop that from going even higher. We need pro-American export policies to sell more of our products overseas so that Arkansans get the jobs and our manufacturers and farmers get the business.

The three pending export agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea will increase U.S. exports and will create over 250,000 new jobs. Right now, more than 320,000 Arkansas jobs depend on exports, and these agreements will only increase that number. Full implementation of the South Korea trade agreement alone could generate more than 2,500 new jobs in Arkansas.

Manufacturing exports are the strongest part of

Arkansas' economy. Exports directly support 14 percent of Arkansas' manufacturing jobs, and 66,000 total jobs in all sectors of the economy are supported by manufactured goods exports.

Since 2003, Arkansas manufacturing exports rose twice as fast as the State's overall economy. Seventy-seven percent of Arkansas exporters are small businesses. And, in fact, Arkansas exported over $2 billion of manufactured goods to free trade partners in 2010. That's 45 percent of Arkansas' total. That number will only continue to grow with the approval of these agreements.

These agreements are critical not only to the country at large, but to Arkansas in particular. With 95 percent of the world's consumers outside the United States, we now need to give American businesses the opportunity to build stronger trade ties with countries seeking our goods and services, the best goods and services in the world.

Now that the President has finally sent the three pending export agreements to Congress, we can pass them and help American companies compete and create jobs.

I am confident that Congress will act quickly to approve these important bills.

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