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In Support of U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HAGEL. Mr. President, I rise today to support the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements, which are now before the Senate. These agreements are the first to be considered under the expedited Trade Promotion Authority, TPA, procedure that Congress passed last year. Ratification of these agreements will provide significant benefits to agricultural producers and the U.S. economy. Strong bipartisan votes will send an important message that the U.S. Congress is strongly committed to growing the U.S. economy and helping American farmers and workers succeed in an ever-growing competitive global marketplace.

Both the U.S.-Singapore and U.S.-Chile free trade agreements will level the playing field for U.S. products and farm goods. Specifically, both agreements will eliminate the use of subsidies on agricultural exports, a major step forward for U.S. agriculture in WTO negotiations. There is a clear link between a healthy agricultural sector and trade. More than 43,000 Nebraskans hold jobs related to agriculture exports. Nebraska ranks fourth nationally in exports of agricultural products—an estimated $3.14 billion in 2002. In 2002, Nebraska farmers and ranchers saw increased international sales of corn, soybeans, and wheat, and depend on the ability to export their products to the rest of the world for continued growth.

The U.S.-Singapore free trade agreement will strengthen an important relationship and serve as our first free trade agreement with an Asian nation. Singapore is a critical ally in Southeast Asia in the global war on terrorism. Singapore is also an important economic ally. It is our 12th largest trading partner. This free trade agreement will provide expanded opportunities for trade and investment and will increase job opportunities here at home. It will benefit American firms in many sectors, including those in the banking/financial industry and in professional services. Under the agreement, 100 percent of U.S.
goods and 92 percent of Singaporean goods will have duty-free status immediately. The free trade agreement further ensures that Singapore cannot increase its duties on any U.S. product.

The U.S.-Chile Free Trade agreement will be the first between the U.S. and a South American nation. Under this agreement, American farmers, workers, and businesses will benefit from improved and expanded access to the Chilean market. More than 75 percent of U.S. farm goods will enter Chile tariff-free within 4 years, with all tariffs being phased out within 12 years. This agreement will eliminate tariffs on corn and most distilled spirits in 2 years. It will immediately eliminate tariffs on pork and pork products, soybeans, and many other agricultural products. Access for beef on both sides will be completely liberalized over 4 years. Overall, this agreement will immediately remove tariffs on more than 85 percent of U.S. exports. The U.S.-Chile agreement will provide momentum to the ongoing negotiations in the Free Trade of the Americas and global trade talks. Bilateral agreements, such as this agreement with Chile, are essential because they provide benefits immediately and help the U.S. keep pace with the 16 global competitors, including the EU and Canada, who already have preferential trade agreements with Chile.

Free trade provides the basis for economic growth and democratic governance in developing countries. Free trade promotes American values around the world. It underpins a global economic order that is essential to our own economic security.

Agreements like those before us today will help the U.S. to reap the benefits of free trade and gain access to emerging markets, creating new jobs and higher incomes for Americans. Ninety-six percents of the world's consumers are outside of U.S. borders. Foreign market access is essential for the continued growth and viability of the U.S. economy. International trade is an essential component of growth and opportunity in our global economy. The U.S. must be a leader, not a follower, in the global marketplace.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of the Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements.

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