Free Trade Benefits Ohio

By U.S. Representative Steve Austria

Recently, Congress came together in a bipartisan way to pass crucial free trade agreements between the United States and Panama, Colombia and South Korea. These trade agreements will help create good-paying jobs in the United States without another government spending plan. It will also boost economic growth by opening new markets for U.S. goods and services.

According to this administration, an estimated 250,000 jobs will be created, and every additional $1 billion in exports generates 25,000 new jobs in the United States. These will be long-term, sustainable jobs in the private sector – not temporary government jobs. Compared to the so-called “job-creating” stimulus spending plan that I voted against, this is a significant opportunity for agriculture, manufacturing and many other industries to competitively export their goods – creating private sector jobs in the process.

These trade agreements do not pick winners and losers, nor do they give any preferential treatment to companies in the United States – it simply levels the playing field with other countries. When given the chance to compete on the same level, American products and companies can succeed and remain leaders in the global marketplace.

Unfortunately, we are losing too many jobs and businesses to other countries. The burdensome, unnecessary government regulations that are being implemented by bureaucracies such as the EPA, combined with high tariffs on our exports, and one of the highest tax rates of any industrialized nation in the world, are driving companies out of the United States and overseas.

The free trade agreements will help shoulder that burden, by competitively pricing American exports. Furthermore, it will allow us to produce more goods in the United States without the barriers that drive up the cost of exports and make our country less competitive in the global marketplace.

In my district alone the benefits of international trade are enormous. There are approximately 89 businesses exporting more than $3 billion of products which support more than 9,700 jobs in our area.

I have always believed that when private businesses are given the opportunity to grow and succeed, they will. Take Bluegrass Farms of Ohio, a food grade soy business from my district. This small business currently employs 17 people in Jeffersonville and contracts with more than 40 local farmers to grow their products. Over 90 percent of the soy they produce is shipped to Asia, and a free trade agreement with South Korea could easily double their exports. The more we relieve the restrictions on allowing products to be exported throughout the world, the more small businesses like Bluegrass Farms can grow and hire locally right here in the district.

Similarly, these trade agreements will help American manufacturers like Ohio-based Procter & Gamble. Over 40 percent of their jobs in Ohio support their business outside of the United States in fields such as R&D, design, logistics, and marketing. They also export products like the Gillette Fusion from the United States to 92 countries. The Fusion is manufactured in two places; Boston, Massachusetts and Berlin, Germany. Both Korea and Colombia have tariffs on razors of 10 percent and 15 percent, respectively. The European Union’s FTA with Korea took effect in July, and its agreement with Colombia will follow shortly. According to Proctor and Gamble’s own analysis, had we not passed these trade agreements, the razors that are made in Germany would have been 10-15 percent cheaper to import just because their politicians were able to pass their agreement, and ours weren’t. Workers in the United States are the most productive in the world, but even the most productive who pay a 15 percent penalty, just for being from the United States, will have a hard competing in the international marketplace.

Many people have been asking for a solution to the economic downturn, and letting the markets work their will is one of the best ways to achieve it. The passage of these free trade agreements brings a host of opportunities for businesses in Ohio and around the country – and most importantly, the opportunity for more American jobs, here in America.

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