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Kristi N.
Republican SD 0

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  • Importance of Trade

    by Representative Kristi L. Noem

    Posted on 2014-04-28

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    NOEM. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding, and I want to thank him for the honor of being a part of this group today that is talking about TPP and the importance of trade in the region.

    I did have a chance to get back this morning from a weeklong trip in Asia discussing trade and the importance of the TPP--Trans-Pacific Partnership--the European Union trade negotiations, and the ways that we can expand trade that would benefit our economy.

    The first step to seeing these benefits in these agreements is renewing trade promotion authority, and then we set our goals and our priorities in these agreements. This was a big topic of conversation throughout the week as we met with leaders from Japan--including Prime Minister Abe--South Korea, and then also with the leaders in China and the People's Congress.

    Time and time again, America has reaped the benefits of completed trade agreements in our country. For me, the profound impacts that we have seen in agriculture are particularly interesting.

    We have seen an 18 percent increase in ag exports since we have signed the agreement with Panama. There has been a 68 percent increase in agriculture exports to Colombia since passing trade agreements with those countries.

    We have also generated new business in other sectors of the economy, like manufacturing and the service industry. We have created jobs here at home, while benefiting those people across our country and economies abroad and built relationships with them that we certainly reap the benefits for when it comes to foreign policy and security issues as well.

    In my home State of South Dakota, we have seen export support and create jobs and higher wages for our economy, including our State's number one industry: agriculture.

    Currently, South Dakota agriculture exports total more than $3 billion annually, and they support over 20,000 jobs on and off the farm. It is estimated that more than one in five jobs in South Dakota depend on international trade.

    Those plants that do export goods pay higher wages, they hire more people, and they do it a lot faster than those who don't. Soybeans, corn, wheat, feed grains, and livestock grown in South Dakota are already shipped to countries around the world. We can increase that by growing our access to markets through free-trade agreements.

    As we are working towards trade promotion authority and negotiating the trade agreements, I think of the enormous benefits that it can have for our country. Especially as our economy struggles to recover, increasing exports in trade and markets across the Asia-Pacific and Europe is essential.

    Japan is one of those countries that is included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks and is already one of the largest purchasers of U.S. corn and soybeans. With a good TPP agreement, we could see an increase in grain and livestock exports to Japan and the entire region. That would spark economic activity throughout our country as well.

    Of course, we need to ensure that we get it right. I have asked for assurances from our U.S. trade representative that we won't close the TPP negotiations with Japan unless they agree to eliminate trade barriers to agriculture.

    I appreciate that the bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act outlines trade negotiation objectives. It includes prioritizing agriculture. We need to ensure that food safety and animal and plant health measures are restrictions justified based on sound science. Ultimately, we need to ensure that we have an agreement that is fair to our agriculture producers.

    When I had the opportunity to travel to Asia last week and discuss some of the ways that our country and Japan and China and others in the region can mutually benefit from trade agreements, I made it very clear how important the ag industry is in finalizing any final trade deal and some of my concerns that we already had with existing barriers.

    We are making progress. We need to give those who are negotiating some of the agreements in the region the tools that they need to get this job done. This is one of the main topics I heard from leaders involved in these discussions. It is something these leaders see as key to coming to an agreement on these free-trade agreements, and it is key to agreeing on how a final deal will impact the agriculture sector.

    I think a lot of folks don't realize that Japan has the number three economy in the world, behind the United [[Page H3225]] States and China. If we can finalize an agreement with them, it will set the table for TPP and also for the region on how our discussions go forward with China as well.

    It will open up new opportunities in China where 1.3 billion people call home. There is no way that China can continue to feed its own people and will rely on outside sources for their proteins, for their grains, to make sure their people are well fed into the future.

    In fact, some of the discussions I had with businesses and government officials was the difference between USDA beef and United States beef and South Dakota beef than what they are currently enjoying today.

    As incomes have risen in China and people are making more money, they have a desire for more proteins in their diet. Today, their main source from that protein is from Australian beef; but yet, every day, they ask: When can we get USDA beef? That is what these agreements would bring, not only open markets for us and increase our exports, but bring the Chinese people the kind of goods, food, and services that they want to enjoy as well. Fifty percent of the people in this world live in that region. It is a market that we can't ignore and that we need to prioritize into the future.

    We need to take this first step, so that we can continue reaping the benefits of trade in South Dakota, in the United States, and across the world. It is imperative for job growth here at home and for prosperity for all of the countries involved.

    Historically, when you have looked at free-trade agreements with other countries, the prosperity of all the countries involved have risen after those agreements have come forward and been done and completed.

    I believe that as we focus on this issue, as we approve TPP, as we negotiate agreements that work for all of our countries involved and we finalize with TPA authority, we will certainly get an agreement that is good for all of our countries and beneficial to create jobs here in the United States.

    I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this discussion tonight.

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