Key Vote Letter Supporting H.R. 3078, H.R. 3079, H.R. 3080, H.R. 2832
October 6, 2011
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:
The House and Senate are expected to vote in the coming days on the “United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act” (H.R. 3078), the “United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act” (H.R. 3079), the “United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act” (H.R. 3080), and the “Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Extension Act of 2011” (H.R. 2832), which includes the extension of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region, strongly urges you to vote in favor of these, which are among our top legislative priorities of the year. The Chamber will include votes on, or in relation to, these bills in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
By one estimate, the trade agreements could create as many as 250,000 American jobs and generate billions of dollars in new exports within a few short years. They would level the playing field for American exporters, creating real business opportunities for U.S. businesses and their employees. For example, South Korea currently collects $4 in tariffs on U.S. exports for every $1 the United States collects in tariffs on South Korean goods. A similar disadvantage holds back U.S. trade with Colombia and Panama as well.
Upon implementation, the agreements would immediately eliminate most of those tariffs, with nearly all removed within three years. The accords would also protect the intellectual property of American innovators and creative artists, open these countries’ dynamic services markets, and remove non-tariff barriers that are especially harmful to smaller companies.
Indeed, these agreements are critical for America’s small and medium-sized businesses. More than 35,000 U.S. small- and mid-sized companies export to Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, and they account for more than one-third of U.S. exports to these countries. Approval of the pending trade agreements would permit these firms to boost their sales and allow many more companies to tap these growing markets.
However, the long delay in approving these trade agreements is putting American jobs at risk as other nations race to implement their own trade deals with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. The European Union-Korea Free Trade Agreement entered into force, and more than 90% of EU goods now enter the Korean market duty free, leading to increased sales and market share for European companies while U.S. market share has declined.
Similarly, Colombia’s trade agreement with Mercosur has already resulted in more than $1 billion in lost export sales for U.S. farmers, and the entry-into-force of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement on August 15 is disadvantageous for U.S. exporters to Colombia. A U.S. Chamber study has warned that the United States would lose more than 380,000 jobs and $40 billion in export sales if the pending agreements suffer further delays.
South Korea, Colombia, and Panama are among America’s most important allies in the world. These are robust democracies whose citizens share American values and have long stood by us in strategic parts of the world. Boosting U.S. trade ties to these nations also strengthens these alliances and advances the U.S. national interest in ways that will pay dividends beyond the creation of jobs and new export sales.
With regard to H.R. 2832, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus earlier this year reached agreement on the substance of legislation to extend TAA. The resulting bill reflects a thoughtful compromise that preserves the more effective elements of the five-decade old TAA program, eliminates elements that have proven less effective, and significantly reduces its cost. The legislation is respectful of the difficult fiscal circumstances facing the United States, and the Chamber urges the House to follow the lead of the Senate and pass this legislation.
Also included in H.R. 2832 is a provision to renew GSP, which provides duty-free treatment to selected goods imported from 129 developing countries. Approximately threequarters of U.S. imports under GSP are raw materials, components, or equipment used by U.S. companies to manufacture goods in the United States for domestic consumption or for export, and the remainder is consumer goods that in most cases are not produced in the United States. In this fashion, GSP boosts the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and lowers the cost of consumer goods for American families. The Chamber also supports provisions to extend the “Andean Trade Preference Act” included in H.R. 3078.
Congressional leadership has brought approval of these trade agreements within reach, and the Chamber shares the passionate bipartisan support for these agreements. To create American jobs, level the playing field for trade, and reaffirm U.S. leadership in trade, the Chamber urges you to support the implementing bills for the trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea as well as the legislation to renew TAA and GSP. Due to the importance of the trade agreements as well as the legislation to renew TAA and GSP, the Chamber will include votes on, or in relation to, these bills in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten