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Dr. Coburn Votes for CAFTA

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Votes for CAFTA

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released the following statement regarding his vote for the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

CAFTA will help protect jobs in Oklahoma, reduce illegal immigration and help our nation compete and win against China and other nations eager to gain an economic and political foothold in our hemisphere," Dr. Coburn said.

Oklahoma agricultural and textile producers, in particular, will benefit from CAFTA. CAFTA will level the playing for American workers and turn a trade relationship that is a one-way street into a two-way street. Currently, CAFTA nations can export to the U.S. duty free while our exports face steep tariffs. CAFTA will allow American producers to export to Central America without facing unfair penalties.

Oklahoma's exports to Central American countries are among the fastest growing in the nation. Between 2000 and 2004 Oklahoma exports to Central America grew by $6.9 billion or 22 percent. Oklahoma's 40 percent increase in exports to Central America between 2003 and 2004 was the tenth fastest in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Oklahoma companies and organizations supporting CAFTA include the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Wheat Growers, the Cupid Textile Plant in Blackwell, the General Mills Plant in Vinita and the Whirlpool Plant in Tulsa.

David Welsh, the president of the Cupid Foundations, Inc. with a textile plant in Blackwell, said CAFTA was critical to keeping jobs at the Blackwell plant and similar plants.

"CAFTA will also give potential illegal immigrants a reason to stay home. When goods can cross borders people don't have to," Dr. Coburn said. "Moreover, strengthening economies and democracies in Central America will help will keep competitors like China out of our backyard and protect our national security interests. The people of Central America have been plagued by military dictatorships and communist regimes for much of the past 20 years. It is not surprising that communist regimes in Venezuela and Cuba oppose CAFTA."

"I have been a critic of poorly-negotiated trade agreements in the past and voted against granting most-favored-nation (MFN) trading status to China. I have voted against every other sub-par trade agreement I've seen and will continue to do so. But this agreement is right for America and Oklahoma," Dr. Coburn said. "American businesses face an external, government-imposed cost burden that is 22 percent higher than external cost burden facing our major foreign competitors. Our dysfunctional tax system, health care system and tort system - not just bad trade agreements - are driving companies out of business and jobs overseas. CAFTA will help reverse that trend."

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