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Public Statements

In Support of the Trade Agreements

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GIBSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the fair trade agreements that we will vote on later today. I commend the Obama administration for their work in ensuring that our businesses and workers get the best agreement possible to grow the economy and create jobs.

While these agreements have been in the works for years, our country has benefited from the improvements garnered by our U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, and his team. This is particularly evident in their refining of the South Korean agreement so that our farmers and automobile manufacturers get a fair deal. Of course, each trade agreement is different, and they all have to be evaluated on their merits. Details matter.

Overall, these agreements will help increase U.S. exports by an estimated $13 billion, adding $10 billion to our annual gross domestic product and creating nearly a quarter million jobs, including many in my district in upstate New York; and we'll do that without adding a single dollar to the deficit. In fact, these fiscally responsible agreements will help cut the deficit.

Our farmers, in particular, stand to gain significantly from these agreements, opening up nearly $30 million in new business a year for our farmers in New York. These agreements are enthusiastically supported by our New York State Farm Bureau and by my Agricultural Advisory Panel, comprised of farmers from across the 10 counties and 137 towns I represent, a congressional district with over 1,000 family farmers.

Mr. Speaker, we have the smartest, hardest-working farmers in the world. Their issue is profitability. We help farmers when we attack the impediments to growth, which include taxes, regulations, health care costs, and energy costs. We help farmers when we have access to quality infrastructure--not only roads and bridges, but also access to high-speed broadband. And we help farmers when we expand markets to help them sell their goods. These agreements enhance our farmers' profitability.

Supporting our farmers is supporting the American way. Our family farmers represent the best of our country. And this is also a national security issue--no farms, no food. We must ensure our family farms can compete, or we risk losing them and relying on imports with the attendant food security risks. That's not what my constituents want; that's not what our country wants, which is why we need to pass these agreements.

Now, in addition to helping our farmers, the independent, nonpartisan U.S. International Trade Commission estimates key U.S. manufacturing sectors are also poised to gain. This includes the increase of U.S. exports of motor vehicles and parts by about 50 percent; metal products by over 50 percent; chemical, rubber, and plastic products by over 40 percent; and machinery and equipment by over 30 percent. This will directly help companies in my district, who are already relying on exports, with expanding markets for selling their products, companies like B&B Forest Products in Greene County, Momentive in Saratoga County, EFCO Products in Dutchess County, and Hudson River Stove Works in my home county, Columbia.

What's often missed in these conversations about trade are some of the key points. Right now, over 90 percent of the products coming from Colombia and Panama are already duty free, when less than 40 percent of our goods currently go duty free to these countries. Our goods to South Korea suffer under tariff rates about four times higher. With passage of these fair trade agreements, we will address these imbalances. These agreements will add to our GDP, strengthen existing jobs, and create new ones.

Let's recognize what's at stake, and let's not fool ourselves. If we fail to pass these fair trade agreements and do nothing, we will fall behind. In South Korea, we have seen our beef industry lose more and more of the share of that country's business year after year since the 1990s. South Korea is poised to increase agricultural trade with Australia and the European Union. If we don't pass these agreements, we will continue to fall behind while other countries gain. Same with Colombia: in 2007, our farmers accounted for 44 percent of the agricultural business in Colombia. By 2010, that number fell to 21 percent.

These agreements are about the future. As Americans, we've enjoyed an unprecedented quality of life because we make things other people can't and we make common goods better than anyone else. That's still the case. In my district, we make the world's most advanced wafers in the semi-conductor industry and some of the most advanced medical devices.

We are poised to continue our tradition of excellence in this country if we make the right choices. And, today, making the right choices means working in a bipartisan way with the Obama administration and enacting a key provision of the President's jobs plan. It means passing these fair trade agreements before the House this week.

I urge my colleagues to support these bills and help get America back to work.

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