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Global Trade and Job Creation

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Location: Washington, DC


GLOBAL TRADE AND JOB CREATION -- (House of Representatives - July 15, 2009)

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Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank you for heading up this Special Order, and I thought I better get down here since I had proposed it. And I think it's a great idea because we--trade is so important right now during this recession. It is more important than ever that we continue to advance freer, fairer global commerce and not regress towards more harmful protectionist trade policies. And free trade agreements are one of the many ways to improve all of the Americans' standard of living and to get our economy back on track.

And you mentioned Caterpillar. Let me just say that there are two plants that are very close to my district, and I have had the opportunity to drive a top loader 10 times.

Mr. DREIER. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Speaker, I find it very hard to believe the gentlewoman from Hinsdale drove a high loader. A Caterpillar high loader?

Mrs. BIGGERT. A 10-ton loader that has a basket.

Mr. DREIER. If I were to witness that, Mr. Speaker, I would get out of the way, but I'm sure you did very well.

Mrs. BIGGERT. I can drive it forward and backward, and it is a huge vehicle. I think it holds a million golf balls in its basket, so you can imagine how big this is.

But this is such an important piece of equipment. And Colombia has had so many of these vehicles to go--for trade. And here, as you said, we have the tariff that has to be paid by Colombia at $200,000 per vehicle for an off-road tractor going into Colombia while Colombian exports come into the United States nearly duty free.

So this trade agreement is so right because that $200,000 per vehicle could be used and stay in America with a free trade agreement and supply many more jobs in my district and nationwide. And, in fact, in days since the Colombia Free Trade Agreement was signed here and has not been put into place, U.S. companies have paid over $2 billion in tariffs on goods and services that are exported to Colombia. And the money, you know, could do so much more.

Let's go back for a minute to the Chile Trade Agreement, because I was the Republican whip on that. You put me in that position, and it was really an eye-opener, I think, for so many Members on this floor.

So many of them were skeptical. So many of them thought this was--that we shouldn't be entering into this, all of these global trade agreements. And the benefits that have been provided by that where American exports to Chile grew from $2.7 billion in 2003 to $12.1 billion in 2008. That's outstanding.

Mr. DREIER. Reclaiming my time, I would like the gentlewoman to repeat that number. So, again, the actual raw number in dollar value of the increase in our exports from the United States is what number?

Mrs. BIGGERT. Our exports to Chile grew from $2.7 billion in 2003 to $12.1 billion in 2008, and U.S. imports from Chile grew from $3.7 billion in 2003 to $8.1 billion in 2008.

Now, I love those green grapes that come in from Chile. And, you know, this is a thing where food products and everything that's coming from there is that we send over our products when they're having their winter; they send over their food products when we're having our winter. So it works out.

And then another statistic is that in 2008, the U.S. was Chile's top source of imports and the second largest destination for Chilean exports while Chile was the 25th largest export market for U.S. goods.

So we are doing really well to have that partnership, and that's why we need to move ahead with these other trade agreements.

Let me just say one more thing about the Peru Trade Agreement also that was passed. My home State of Illinois, we exported $198 million in goods to Peru in 2006. So, as seen with Chile and other countries, we

have a fair trade agreement with the amount of exports to Peru that will only increase. So we should do everything to encourage the trade agreements that are now on the table.

And the cost, the cost of stalling these free trade agreements, for example, it's not fair that an Illinois company like Caterpillar should have to pay the $200,000 tariff and so many other companies that face the same thing; plus, the national security issue, the fact that we're dealing with countries so that we're not allowing some of the countries that are hostile to us to just have such a foothold there.

With the Colombia agreement, I think a couple of things. And so many of these agreements have gotten into human rights or labor protections, and I think Colombia, in particular, has worked so hard to further reduce the violence and increase labor protections there by improving the labor and human rights in their nation. And we actually used to meet with President Uribe for so long, and it really was a shame then that we could not get this agreement through. And it really was unfair to change the law--I don't think you can change the law, but to have the Speaker not allow this agreement to come up within 45 days.

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Mrs. BIGGERT. I think there is a disconnect with some of the unions that they don't understand that this is what creates jobs in the United States when we have the products that we're going to export, and the more that we export, the more jobs that we have created, and this is what moves our economy along.

Let me talk about one more issue, and that is that the U.S. trade deficit is shrinking. In May this year, there was a 9.8 decline in the U.S. trade deficit. That means that we are exporting more and more. We have been at a deficit where we have imported more, so we are running a trade surplus.

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