Trade Works for Kansas
Trade Works for Kansas
By: Congressman Tim Huelskamp
When the House passed trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea earlier this past week, it was a big victory not only for America, but especially for Kansas farmers and ranchers. Amid the country’s dire economic outlook and persistently high unemployment rate, these agreements are a glimmer of hope that America can reverse its current course with new markets and new jobs.
With every $1 billion in exports, 25,000 new jobs are created. Given that about 25 million Americans are unemployed or under-employed, these additional opportunities to sell our goods in foreign nations are most welcome. As if the new jobs alone were not enough, the jobs that are related to trade pay on average 15 percent to 17 percent more, meaning that families have more to spend in their local economies.
By the administration’s own count, these agreements are likely to create upwards of 250,000 jobs. Other organizations and entities have predicted similar levels of job growth, including the Kansas Farm Bureau, which estimates that Kansas will gain about $125 million in new sales and more than a thousand new jobs as a result of these agreements.
If past is prologue, then Kansas can expect tremendous economic growth as a result of expanded trading partnerships. Consider that since the U.S. entered into a new agreement with Chile in 2004, Kansas exports to the South American nation have grown by 202 percent and since a 2005 agreement between the U.S. and Australia, Kansas exports there have grown by 90 percent. Such results have helped Kansas to weather the economic recession a little bit better than other states.
Immediate reductions in tariffs will allow many of Kansas’ agricultural exports eventually to be imported duty-free in these nations. And, the U.S. will be deemed a preferential trading partner, services trades will be liberalized, and the U.S. will be given access to additional government procurement opportunities. Amid all of this, there are defenses for the U.S., including property rights, labor, and environment protections as well as methods by which the two nations have agreed to settle any disputes.
When more than nine-in-ten of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States’ borders, it is simply not enough to buy American; we have to sell American. When the U.S. is not expanding its trading relationships and establishing partnerships with growing nations, other countries or multinational bodies are orchestrating agreements that put the U.S. at a disadvantage and that make the U.S. a less attractive trading partner. The European Union, China, and other nations are all anxious to get a share of the fastest-growing markets (with their fast-growing checkbooks) in places like India and the Asia-Pacific region.
These agreements are a solid step toward reclaiming shares of foreign markets that were lost as a result of other nations enacting partnerships while the U.S. agreements sat on the President’s desk. But now that the House and Senate have had the opportunity to vote on them, it will not be long before they become law and we begin to recoup those losses and actually get ahead.