Expanding Washington Trade Opportunities

Statement

By:  Doc Hastings
Date: Oct. 26, 2012
Location: Unknown

Millions of Americans across the nation are still looking for work and there is no question that Congress's focus must remain on job creation. In trade-dependent states like Washington, this in part means preserving access and opening up new overseas markets for our goods and services.

A recent report by the Washington Council on International Trade found that 40 percent of jobs in our state now rely on trade -- making Washington one of the most trade-dependent states in the nation. Agriculture, Central Washington's largest export, accounts for $11.4 billion of this total and approximately 34,000 jobs.

These numbers are a testament to the high-quality products that our state's growers and manufacturers produce. When given the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, buyers from around the world often choose to buy Washington state goods.

The Council's report also showed that trade is growing in importance to our state's economy. Washington's exports have doubled over the past fifteen years -- now totaling $64 billion, with a larger percentage of people whose jobs now rely on trade. However, with less than five percent of Washington's businesses exporting their goods or services to other countries, there is still a lot of room to grow.

I firmly believe that the United States must actively pursue efforts to reduce tariff barriers that continue to place our growers, manufacturers and service providers at a competitive disadvantage in other countries. This means participating in agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, holding our trading partners accountable for putting up unfair roadblocks for U.S. exporters, and engaging with other countries to gain fair access to their markets.

This isn't just about new job growth opportunities. It is also about protecting our current market share in other countries. The European Union and other global economic players are actively seeking new agreements with their trading partners across the globe and the United States is at risk of being left behind. If tariffs disappear for exporters from other countries but remain for our growers and manufacturers, that places the United States at a disadvantage in important markets.

As our economy is struggling to recover, leveling the playing field for our growers, manufacturers and service providers is a no-cost way to create jobs right here in Central Washington. That is why I was pleased to support the fair trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia that were finally signed into law last year. Taking these long overdue steps has already helped our economy, without spending trillions on stimulus spending or more government bailouts. As your representative I will continue to pursue more fair trade opportunities with our most important trading partners.