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Matheson Puts Utah's Interest First with CAFTA Vote

Location: Washington, DC

Matheson Puts Utah's Interest First with CAFTA Vote
July 27, 2005

Washington DC-Congressman Jim Matheson said that Utah's economic growth was the deciding factor behind his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement which is scheduled for a vote in the House today.

"The bottom line for me is that CAFTA will create jobs here in Utah by boosting opportunities for our exporters. Removing trade barriers to Utah products is a good thing for our state's economy and employees," said Matheson.

Matheson noted that CAFTA countries are Utah's 5th largest growth market, with the value of exports increasing by $40 million since 1999. He said that nearly one-fifth of all manufacturing workers in Utah depend on exports for their jobs.

"America's markets are already open to CAFTA countries. This agreement will finally open their markets to our goods, farm products and services. Along with the economic benefits, I see free trade as an opportunity to bolster the fragile democracies in our own hemisphere. As President Jimmy Carter says, now is not the time to abandon our friends," said Matheson.

Utah employer Intel said CAFTA is important to the hi-tech industry.

"This agreement is very important to Utah's technology industry in that it eliminates key trade barriers, promotes e-commerce and protects intellectual property rights. More than 75% of Intel's revenue currently comes from outside the US. Access to growing markets around the world is critically important to the future success of Intel in Utah," said Melika Carroll, Intel's Trade Policy Director.

Matheson said no one is arguing that this agreement will, by itself, solve the problems of poverty, human rights and labor conditions in Central America. But he said that improving labor and environmental standards can't be done by voting against CAFTA.

"Democracy and economic integration in this hemisphere are established priorities of presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter," said Matheson. "We shouldn't turn back the clock on the free trade agenda that holds so much promise for peacefully engaging with the world and strengthening Utah's economic future," said Matheson.

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