October 10, 2007
Hello everybody out there in farm country. The American farmer takes a lot of pride in that we not only provide the safest, most abundant supply of food to our citizens but also, we run a trade surplus in farm exports. We export almost 30% of what we produce. To facilitate export trade, we have entered into a series of bilateral free trade agreements. Up until a few months ago, President Bush had the authority to negotiate trade agreements, bring them to the Congress which could approve them or reject them, but could not amend them. His authority has expired, and is not likely to be reinstated. The confidence in trade has been hurt in recent years vvith the worry that we are outsourcing too much from other countries.
Before his negotiating authority expired, President Bush completed four agreements. The Congress should ratify them.
Peru, Panama, Colombia,and S. Korea
The Peruvian agreement is "state of the art," setting a standard for future agreements. Tariffs on our pork exports will be phased out. Duty free! That's progress compared to the 25% duty we face now.
The agreements with all three South American countries carry symbolic weight far beyond the products sold. Those countries are allies and friends. They are willing to stand with us instead of with that left wing, hatemonger Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Our friends would be devastated if we did not pass those trade agreements, and our influence in South America would suffer a serious blow.
Finally, the agreement with S. Korea is big for us. The ITC estimates the deal would increase the U.S. gross domestic product by 11 billion dollars. Our pork exports will double to 600,000 metric tons.
Our Congress can't seem to get much of anything done. Tell them to pass the trade agreements.
Until next week, I amJohn Block from Washington.