Grassley: Trade Promotion Authority Would Help Iowa
WASHINGTON – Trade negotiating authority for President Bush would benefit thethousands of Iowans whose goods and services deserve greater circulation via the world market, Sen.Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, said today.
“While Iowans are highly competitive in today’s global marketplace, we can do even better,”Grassley said. “Too many of our goods and services still can’t compete due to prohibitive foreigntariffs and uneven foreign regulation. We must continue working together to tear down thesebarriers and give every Iowan the opportunity to compete openly and fairly throughout world.”
Grassley’s comments came in a letter to the Governor’s Conference on International Tradein West Des Moines. Grassley was invited to serve as the opening speaker, but had to decline dueto Senate votes in Washington, D.C.
As Finance Committee chairman, Grassley oversees the committee with jurisdiction overtrade legislation. He said he is working with his congressional colleagues on legislation that wouldgrant President Bush trade negotiating authority, which would give the president more authority thanhe currently has to negotiate trade agreements. Grassley said the United States has fallen behind inparticipating in world trade agreements because the president lacks trade negotiating authority.
“It’s time for the United States to get back in the game,” Grassley said. “That’s why I’ll workhard to pass trade promotion authority this year. Congress must renew its partnership with thepresident to negotiate trade agreements on behalf of all Americans. Working together, we can ensurethat the people of Iowa get the representation they need on the world stage.”
The text of Grassley’s letter follows.
May 22, 2001
Iowa Department of Economic Development
200 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Dear Conference Participants:
Thank you for the invitation to speak at this year’s Governor’s Conference on InternationalTrade. I apologize that I am not able to attend in person, but important business keeps me inWashington. This conference is critically important to Iowa’s exporters, and I deeply regret notbeing able to attend in person.
As a working family farmer and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Iappreciate the importance of international trade to Iowa. Today, I would like to pass along mythoughts on the importance of trade, not just to United States, but also to Iowa.
U.S. exports support over 12 million American jobs. Over one-third of U.S. agricultureproduction was exported in 1998, at a value of over $52 billion. The United States leads the worldin trade in services with over $264 billion in exports annually.
Iowa plays an important role in world trade, by exporting a wide range of products to anastounding 154 countries. As the largest hog-raising, soybean and feed corn producing state, Iowaranks second in the nation for agricultural exports. These exports provide more than 86,000 jobs inIowa.
The Iowa Department of Economic Development’s International Division does anexceptional job of strengthening Iowa’s presence in the international marketplace, and informingIowans about the vital benefits trade brings to our state in general and more specifically to ourfarmers and their families.
But, while Iowans are highly competitive in today’s global marketplace, we can do evenbetter. Too many of our goods and services still can’t compete due to prohibitive foreign tariffs anduneven foreign regulation. We must continue working together to tear down these barriers and giveevery Iowan the opportunity to compete openly and fairly throughout world.
That is why I am committed to working with my House and Senate colleagues to pass tradepromotion authority for President Bush this year. This legislation is very important. The U.S.Constitution vests authority over tariffs with the U.S. Congress. The Constitution also grants thePresident the authority to speak for our nation in conducting foreign policy. Thus, the very natureof our Constitution mandates a partnership between the executive and legislative branches ofgovernment in matters of international trade negotiations.
That is what trade promotion authority is all about -- a partnership between the executive andlegislative branches of government to enable U.S. farmers and workers to be effectively representedat the negotiating table. It is a critical tool of U.S. trade policy, a tool we have been without sinceits expiration in 1994.
Since that time, the United States has fallen further behind. While other nations arenegotiating trade agreements we are sitting on the sidelines. The results are becoming clear. TheUnited States is a party to only two of the over 130 estimated Free Trade Agreements in force today.As a result, the vast majority of Free Trade Agreements grant our trading partners preferences at ourexpense.
Let me just give you one example from an industry which is vital to the Iowa’s economy.In March, John Hardin, past president of the National Pork Producers Council, testified inWashington, D.C., before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade that the “the rapidlyexpanding Brazilian pork industry -- a key competitor to the U.S. industry -- now has preferentialaccess into many markets to the detriment of U.S. producers. For example, the U.S. pork industryrecently obtained access to the Argentine pork market. We are disadvantaged selling into Argentinabecause of the preferential access that Brazilian pork exports receive. ... Specifically, the U.S. facesa 34.5 percent duty on pork exported to Argentina while Brazil enjoys duty free access on its porkexported to Argentina. The U.S. pork industry currently is trying to obtain access to the Chilean porkmarket, another market in which Brazil has preferential access. Canada, which probably is our mostsignificant competitor in pork, has gained preferential access into Chile through a free tradeagreement. Mexico, which has some world class pork operations and counts Japan among its porkexport markets, has negotiated close to 30 free trade agreements. If left unchecked, Mexico willdominate a number of Western Hemisphere pork import markets to the detriment of the U.S. porkindustry.”
We cannot tolerate this unfair treatment. It is time for the United States to get back in thegame. That is why I will be working hard to pass trade promotion authority this year. Congress mustrenew the partnership with the President to negotiate trade agreements on behalf of all Americans.Working together, we can ensure that the people of Iowa get the representation they need on theworld stage.
The theme of today’s conference is an important one – “The Expansion of World Markets.”We compete well on the world market. And we can do even better. I will do my part to make surethat the world’s markets are open to all Iowans. And I know that you will do your part to seize thoseopportunities.
Thank you again.
Charles E. Grassley
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