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Public Statements

Free Trade Agreeements

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HERGER. I thank the gentleman from Texas very much, and I want to thank the gentleman for the tremendous leadership that you've given us in the area of trade, trade which is so crucially important to our Nation, to our ability to create jobs, to our economic well-being here in our Nation.

As Chairman Brady mentioned, I am very blessed to represent one of the richest agricultural areas in the world, an area in the northern Sacramento valley of California just north of Sacramento. In our area, we are the second-largest rice producing district in the Nation. We're also one of the top producers of specialty crops: peaches, walnuts, almonds, dried plums, and prunes are some of our major commodities.

And the fact is that we cannot, both in California and in our Nation, nearly consume the amount of products that we grow. We are dependent on being able to export. But our challenge--and the example I'm giving with my district is really true in every area across our Nation; it's true in manufacturing and it's true in everything we do--is that as one of the top trading nations in the world historically, the United States, we are dependent on being able to trade. Ninety-five percent of the world's markets lie outside of the United States.

Now, what are the challenges that we have, and why are these trade agreements, these three trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea, so very important to not only my area of California but to the entire Nation? The reason is that we have challenges in getting into other countries' markets. We have very little, very low barriers coming into our markets.

Other countries can trade with us almost barrier-free, but that is not the case with our products going to other countries. Other countries--virtually all of them--are very protective. They have very high tariffs. So therefore what is taking place when we sit down with these nations and bargain and come up with these trade agreements is an opportunity of lowering their barriers so that the district in my area where we can be able to export to them rice, peaches, walnuts, almonds, dairy products, and, again, our manufacturing goods, without these high barriers and be able to get access to those markets. So it's very important that we do this.

What happens when we don't move forward? Well, we can see it. I was in Panama just this last year. Panama now is doubling the size of the Panama Canal. They're going to need construction equipment. Now, where are they going to purchase this construction equipment? Well, they could be purchasing it from the United States. But guess what? Canada was successful in negotiating a trade agreement with Panama before we've had ours signed. Therefore, they have lower rates, lower barriers on getting their equipment into Panama. So Panama there has had a big advantage of buying from Canada, sales that would have come from the United States.

We can use these same examples with Colombia, the same example with South Korea who has negotiated with the EU, a major trading competitor with us. Therefore, we lose out in jobs, and we lose out in this market share. It is really a lose/lose for the United States.

I want to commend the President. We wish he would have sent these three agreements to us sooner. I'm grateful that he's sending them to us now. It's very important that we pass it. What we have seen is that the nonpartisan U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that by signing these three trade agreements we can increase 250,000 new jobs to the United States--250,000 new jobs. That's without any stimulus, without any taxpayer money going into it. It is jobs for people who are unemployed today that can be employed, and it will increase at least $13 billion in trade.

So I want to urge our Congress, I want to urge the House and I want to urge the Senate to vote for these, pass it, let's get going on these trades. Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for your leadership.


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