Many industry representatives and Members of Congress continue to speak out about the job-creation power of trade as the end of the year nears without consideration of pending free trade agreements on the horizon.
With an official unemployment rate of 10 percent, jobs are on the mind of every American politician.
Heading into President Barack Obama’s jobs summit last week, more than 150 U.S. manufacturers, companies and agricultural interests that make up the Alliance to Keep U.S. Jobs urged him to resolve a longstanding dispute with Mexico on cross-border trucking.
Mexico announced the tariffs on almost 90 American products after language in the FY2009 omnibus spending bill, approved earlier this year, ended a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks on U.S. roads.
The Alliance said these tariffs are now resulting in as many as 25,000 jobs being threatened or lost due to reduced exports to that country.
Late last week, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) wrote an opinion-editorial in the Chicago Tribune that specifically called out the pending agreement with Colombia and the potential loss of market wheat growers could experience without it.
“These free-trade agreements will help make U.S. companies more competitive globally, increase their profitability and allow them to hire new American workers and help grow the economy,” Schock wrote. “Colombia is the eighth largest market in the world for sales of U.S. wheat…However, Colombia has just signed a free-trade agreement with Canada and expects to enter into a similar agreement with the European Union shortly.”
The grower-leaders of NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates submitted a letter to the editor this week in response to Schock’s piece. It read:
“As representatives of U.S. wheat producers who are dependent on export markets for more than half of their annual production, we commend the focus on pending free trade agreements in Rep. Aaron Schock’s Dec. 4 editorial.
“Rep. Schock correctly pointed out that one of these agreements – that with Colombia – has been languishing for more than three years while our industry has become increasingly concerned about lost market share in that country.
“Colombia is the U.S. wheat industry’s largest market in South America, with a market share of nearly 70 percent and sales last year of $225 million. We know that will not be the case next year if Canada approves their free trade agreement with Colombia and ours remains stalled – at which point our market share could fall as low as 30 percent, costing the wheat industry more than $92 million annually.
“That translates to losses in money and jobs along the entire wheat value chain and in the heartland. There is no better economic stimulus and recovery than trade.”
Schock’s full editorial is at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-oped1204tradedec04,0,6626172.story.