Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In support of free trade agreements

Yesterday, CEO Glenn Hamer sent the letter below to Arizona's Congressional Delegation, urging them to support the pending free trade agreements for Colombia, Panama and South Korea:

I am writing to urge you to make trade expansion a part of America's economic recovery by approving the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Your support for these job-creating, budget-neutral trade agreements is critical to America's workers, farmers, and companies.

The pending agreements will create tens of thousands of good American jobs and billions of dollars in new exports within a few short years. They will bolster important allies and confirm that America is not ready to cede its global leadership role in trade.

Fundamentally, these agreements are about making trade fair. The U.S. market is largely open to imports from around the world, but other countries continue to slap steep tariffs on our exports. These agreements will create a level playing field for American workers and farmers by eliminating the barriers U.S. exporters face in these three markets.

The agreements are particularly important for America's small and mid-sized companies. More than 280,000 U.S. companies are exporters, and 97% of them are small and medium-sized businesses. Together, they generate nearly one-third of all U.S. merchandise exports. These agreements are especially important for these smaller businesses, which are often shut out of foreign markets by high tariffs and other barriers. In Arizona alone, passage of the South Korean Free Trade Agreement would immediately open the doors to Korea’s $1 trillion economy to industries as diverse as agriculture and aircraft manufacturing.

Other nations are racing to complete their own trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama and create jobs on their own shores. In the first two weeks after the European Union-Korea Free Trade Agreement entered into force on July 1, European exports to Korea rose 16% while U.S. market share in Korea fell. Ninety percent of Korean tariffs on European imports have already been eliminated. The Canada-Colombia FTA will enter into force on August 15, leaving American businesses further behind in Colombia. A U.S. Chamber study has warned that the United States will lose more than 380,000 jobs and $40 billion in export sales if we delay further.

Now it the time to sharpen America's competitive advantages in the global marketplace by opening growing markets abroad. We urge you to lend your support for approval of the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

Glenn Hamer
President & CEO