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Public Statements

Trade Agreements

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. JOHANNS. Madam President, I rise today with my colleagues to talk about trade and the importance of trade and specifically to talk about three pending trade agreements. And when I say ``pending,'' man alive, am I emphasizing ``pending.'' These agreements have been around a very long time. And I am referring to Korea, Panama, and Colombia.

We all know the benefits of trade in the United States. In Nebraska, my home State, more than 19,000 jobs and more than $5.5 billion in revenue were directly tied to exports last year.

In trade discussions, we often hear about the need to level the playing field. Well, these agreements do exactly that. They eliminate tariffs and a whole host of other barriers on most agricultural products, including products that are important to my State: beef, corn, soybeans, and pork. No doubt about it, they increase the economic opportunities for Nebraska farmers and ranchers, for businesses and for workers.

Well, for 3 years, we have heard the President say the right thing. In fact, every time he would say something about this, I thought, finally, the trade agreements are going to bust loose and we are going to have an opportunity to vote on them.

He said in last year's State of the Union:

If America sits on the sidelines while other Nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores.

Then again in May, the President called for a ``robust, forward-looking trade agenda that emphasizes exports and domestic job growth.''

Just last week, the President noted that now is the time. He said, of ``a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama, Colombia and South Korea,'' now is the time. If now is the time, why is the administration continuing to fail to act? It has been 1,538 days since the Korea agreement was signed. It has been 1,540 days since the Panama agreement was signed. It has been 1,758 days since we completed negotiations with Colombia.

As I said, I have colleagues with me today who are in a much better position than I would be to explain the positive impacts of these trade agreements. I am going to ask that Senator Roberts speak first, Senator Portman, Senator Hoeven, Senator Blunt, and Senator Isakson. It is my hope that if there is time permitting, I will wrap up.

I ask Senator Roberts, as former chairman of the House Agriculture subcommittee and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee today, how important are these agreements to agriculture and job creation in the United States?

Mr. ROBERTS. Madam President, I thank my colleague and dear friend from Nebraska for the question.

In the end, the biggest consequence for inaction that is now facing our Nation, our biggest challenge, is jobs. In regards to his question, the three pending trade agreements add up to $13 billion in additional exports and an estimated 250,000 jobs. From the agricultural perspective, the three pending trade agreements represent $2.5 billion, if they are ever implemented.

The estimates are that the three agreements in total are expected to increase direct exports by $129.5 million just for Kansas farmers and ranchers and an additional 1,150 jobs for our State. For folks on the farm, these export markets are absolutely critical. Approximately one-third of our crop production is exported. For wheat, that number jumps to one-half.

The administration's prolonged delay is causing U.S. businesses and producers to simply lose market share. We are losing out. Other countries are not waiting. They are enacting trade agreements without the United States.

Let me give a very good example. The Colombia-Canada trade agreement went into force on August 15 of this year. Already, Nutresa, the largest food processor in Colombia, has announced it will source all of its wheat from Canada to take advantage of the lower duties the Canadian wheat will receive from the trade agreement. Nutresa's wheat demand alone represents 50 percent of all wheat imports to that country. Our Kansas Farm Bureau estimates that Kansas farmers stand to lose $21 million from lost wheat sales alone and $38 million from all agricultural exports just by doing nothing on the trade agreement.

Soon after the United States negotiated the trade agreement with Korea, the European Union followed suit. In July, the Korea-European Union trade agreement went into effect. According to Korean customs, within the first 29 days of July, I say to my friend, the European exports were up 34 percent.

Get this one: Notably, aerospace equipment increased by a whopping 1,693 percent. That is astounding. Kansas is a major player in the aviation sector, exporting $2.7 billion in transportation equipment last year. As the aviation capital of the world, Wichita's aviation companies and 17,000 workers have much to lose in trying to compete against the European Union.

It is long overdue time for the President to put some action behind his words. Send the three trade agreements to Congress immediately.

I am going to make a statement that I regret to say. Trade assistance notwithstanding, I am very sad to say that I do not believe we are going to see any trade agreement this year or the next. I hope my prediction is not correct. This is ridiculous.

Every third foggy night, the President makes a speech and says: We need these trade agreements. We are losing market share.

Well, I don't see the trade agreements. These are not the trade agreements. Maybe somebody can find them here on the floor or in the House. Maybe they are somewhere. But I think they are in the White House, and until we get the politics out of this and the President sends the trade agreements here, what on Earth is he doing saying we should be passing these trade agreements? We don't have the bill. Send us the bill, Mr. President.

As the administration delays moving forward on these export agreements with Korea, Panama, and Colombia, what is happening to American exports to these important markets?

Senator Portman is an expert on this issue. There is not anybody in this Senate who is more of an expert on trade. If you apply the administration's own metrics, how many jobs will be created--I am not talking about lost but will be created by these pending agreements?

Mr. PORTMAN. I thank my colleague from Kansas, who has just made the case eloquently as to why we need to move forward.

To answer his question, when you apply the metrics the President of the United States and his administration have used for these three trade agreements alone, they would create 250,000 new jobs. I ask my colleagues, with 9 percent unemployment and continued bad economic news, can't we use those jobs? By the way, jobs that are related to trade tend to be higher paying, tend to have more benefits. This is exactly what we need to do in this Senate and in the House and here in Washington--put the partisanship aside and move forward on what makes sense to create jobs.

I can't think of anything that would have a more immediate impact on those exporters Senator Roberts talked about, who right now are seeing their market share eroded because the United States is sitting on its hands. In 2006, the Colombia agreement was finalized. It has been tinkered with since then, but we are talking 5 years ago. It is unbelievable. When we have sat on our hands and not moved forward with giving our farmers and our workers and our service providers the chance to go into that Colombian market, you are exactly right, they have gone ahead and made trade agreements with other folks.

Colombia is a great example. Back when we negotiated this agreement and completed it--and I was the U.S. Trade Representative then, as the Senator indicated, and I negotiated with the then-President of Colombia, President Uribe, who made lots of concessions, including on manufacturing and agricultural services. At that time, we had a 71-percent market share in terms of exports of agricultural products--wheat, corn, and soybeans--into Colombia--a 71-percent market share. Today, that market share is about 26 percent. Why? Because after we completed our agreement with Colombia, they engaged with other countries, including the Mercosur countries of Argentina and Brazil, and now they are buying their products instead from those countries that got their act together and moved forward with trade agreements that this President will not get his act together on and send to us.

As Senator Roberts said, just recently, in August, this summer, they completed an agreement with Canada. Guess what the Canadians love to export--the same kind of wheat we love to export. So the Senator is right, they are going to take the wheat market away from Kansas and North Dakota and other States that really need those jobs and need those exports.

We have to move forward. It is really a crime that we have not been able to provide our farmers, workers, and service providers these opportunities.

Mr. ROBERTS. Will the Senator yield for one quick question?

Mr. PORTMAN. Yes. Absolutely.

Mr. ROBERTS. The Senator has been there and done the negotiating. He knows these trade agreements not only apply to our exports but our national security. What has this continued delay done--what does it do to the credibility of the people who are actually negotiating, our trade representatives?

Mr. PORTMAN. Unfortunately, I think some of these countries--all three of which are great allies of the United States: Panama, Colombia, and South Korea--feel as though the United States has let them down.

We are going to move forward here, I believe. I am more optimistic than the Senator from Kansas. I believe the President will finally send these forward. He has to. The logic is difficult to escape. Why wouldn't you? And that is good. We will be able to move forward, I hope, with not just opening more markets but helping on our relationships with these incredibly important allies. But in the meantime, there has been damage done. The Senator is absolutely right. I think they believe in some respects that the rug has been pulled out from under them. They made huge concessions and commitments to the United States and politically took great risks.

Frankly, in Colombia and Panama, where they moved forward immediately to ratify these agreements in their legislature, it wasn't just the administration, it was the elected representatives of the people, as we are, who took risks to say: Yes, we want to be a partner with the United States of America, the greatest economy on the face of the Earth and this beacon of hope and opportunity, and here we are in America letting them down.

So in both its commercial impacts on the United States--we have lost market share, we have lost jobs because of it, but it also has had an impact, as Senator Roberts says, in terms of our standing in the world.

We have to move forward not just with these three, but the important point is that we have to move forward with additional agreements. There are over 100 trade agreements being negotiated right now around the world, and because the United States does not have a trade promotion authority, the ability for the President to negotiate and bring an agreement back here for an up-or-down vote, we are not engaged in these agreements. We are engaged in one, which is a regional one--the transpacific partnership--but none of these bilateral ones, which is where you are really going to get these trade openings and new exports and, therefore, new jobs.

This is a bigger issue that must be addressed. This Congress, I hope, will address it in the context of the votes we are going to have in connection with the trade agreements. We are going to promote getting the United States back in the game of expanding our trade and helping U.S. jobs.

By the way, it was mentioned earlier that it is not just that we have the opportunity to create over 200,000 jobs. It is also that if we do not move forward on these three agreements, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has done some analysis showing we would lose 380,000 jobs.

This sort of goes both ways. There is a cost to not moving forward, and that is also hundreds of thousands of jobs we desperately need in States such as Ohio and the States represented by the Senators who are here with us on the floor today. The International Trade Commission now says these three agreements alone would expand exports annually by $13 billion--again meaning jobs and opportunity.

It is time for us to move forward. Senator Roberts has talked about what is happening with the European Union, which actually negotiated its agreements after we completed ours.

In the auto sector, by the way, there is an EU-Korea agreement that says the 8-percent tariff on imported cars has already started being reduced. That has resulted in the companies sending UK cars, including Hondas that are being produced in the United Kingdom--they are being exported to South Korea. We have a Honda plant in Ohio. I visited it recently. There are 4,200 Ohio workers there. We want to export Hondas from Ohio to Korea. We can do that with these export agreements.

It is time for us to move forward. It is not the time for us to play politics. We have to move forward because we need these jobs and because, again, the United States should be at the forefront of these agreements in order to not just protect the market share we have but expand it. Ninety-five percent of the consumers live outside of our borders, and we need to access those consumers.

I now ask, if I could, one of my colleagues to talk a little about his experience in his State.

John Hoeven was Governor of North Dakota, so he was like the trade representative from North Dakota. He was out there promoting trade as Governor, and North Dakota is a State that has a lot of exports, including wheat, as we talked about earlier, so they are being hit by what Senators ROBERTS and JOHANNS talked about in terms of what is happening in Colombia today with the Canadian agreement and also the EU agreement with Korea.

I ask Senator Hoeven if he would talk a little about why these agreements with Colombia and Panama are so important to his State.

Mr. HOEVEN. I thank Senator Portman, and I thank Senator Johanns for organizing this discussion on a very important issue, a timely issue. It is good to be here with Senator Roberts, with Senator Blunt and Senator Isakson. I think, coming from our different States, we show how important these trade agreements are not only to our individual States across the country but how important these trade agreements are to our Nation right now.

When we are talking trade, we are talking jobs. We need to create more jobs in this country, and it is the private sector that creates jobs. It is business investment, it is companies that create jobs. Our job, our task, our role is to create an environment where our companies and our entrepreneurs and American ingenuity that built the greatest economic engine in the history of the world--this country, this economy, this U.S. economy--we have to create that environment so they can invest and create those jobs.

One of the important ways we do that is with good trade agreements. Let's make sure our companies can export their great products and services all over the world. We have to compete in a global, high-tech economy, and these trade agreements let us do it. That is why it is so important that we move forward.

Today, we are on the floor of the Senate saying: Why do we have these trade agreements? Thursday night, we heard from the President that we need to move forward with these trade agreements. We want to move forward with these trade agreements. We are ready to go. We have been for some time. In fact, the Senators here on the floor and others have been working very hard to do everything we can to make sure we have cleared the path so these trade agreements can come to the Senate floor.

It was not too long ago that Senator Johanns, myself, and Senator Portman went with Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Moran over to South Korea to meet with President Lee.

He wants the agreements. He is ready to go. As a matter of fact, he said, please ratify the agreements in your country, get them over to me, because I am ready to take that to my legislators and get this approved.

Second, our President said there are some concerns we need to deal with as part of these trade agreements. He said we need to address TSA, trade assistant adjustment. We said we will work with TSA. We will make sure we have enough Senators so it is squared away. We have it covered. That has been communicated. So the question is: Why at this point don't we have the trade agreements? That is the question I think that has to be asked. Where are they? Why aren't they here on the Senate floor so we can move forward with them? In our State, as others mentioned in their States, they are incredibly important.

A few big stats to follow on what Senator Portman mentioned a minute ago. For every 4-percent increase in trade, we create a million jobs in this country. For every 4-percent increase in trade, a million jobs in this country are created. How important is that? The United States-South Korea free trade agreement alone means more than a quarter of a million jobs, more than $10 billion in increased U.S. exports to that country alone. I cannot think of a time when it is more important to create those jobs than right now when we have more than 14 million people out of work and many more who are either not working because they have not been able to get a job or who are underemployed. Unemployment is more than 9 percent.

This is one of the ways we create that environment that gets our people back to work by empowering the private sector to make that investment and create those jobs.

I was just back in North Dakota, and one of the many events I went to was an expansion of one of the Caterpillar company's locations in West Fargo, ND. They remanufacture a lot of their equipment in West Fargo, ND. This equipment goes all over the world. It is part of the huge machines that Cat makes. They use these machines for excavating, for mining, road building, for all these things all over the world, and they are the technology leader in the world in this huge equipment. They bought Bucyrus, which is huge in mining, so now they are big in the mining business. Getting into places such as Colombia and Panama is incredibly important for Caterpillar. It is not just about creating jobs in North Dakota, but think of the impact throughout the heartland in Indiana or in Illinois or, as Senator Roberts talked about, agriculture.

In North Dakota we have more cattle than people. I think we have more than 3 million cattle. Right now to send them to South Korea, we pay more than 40 percent tariff. How do we compete with Argentina or Australia in that situation? This is an opportunity. This is absolutely an opportunity. We need to reach out and grab it with both hands. We have the President right now saying, pass those trade agreements. Absolutely. Please get them down here to us. We have worked so hard to make sure we have cleared all the hurdles, TAA, or whatever else is required. Bring those trade agreements to us. We stand ready to pass them.

Mr. PORTMAN. Would the Senator yield for a second? The Senator talked about being at home and talking to his constituents about this, and I am sure all of us have stories like this, but I will tell you this morning we had one of our weekly coffees and the Ohio pork producers came. There were about 12 pork producers from around the State of Ohio. Do you know what the No. 1 issue was they raised with me? Trade


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