By, Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-01)
As I have travelled across Arizona’s First Congressional District meeting with my constituents, everyone wants to know Congress’ plan to address jobs in our country. Getting Americans back to work has been my number one priority since I took office. The path to economic prosperity is through good paying private sector jobs - the kinds of jobs that will be created because of the free trade agreements (FTAs) that the House of Representatives passed this week.
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When President Obama made his jobs speech last month, I stated in a previous weekly column that there were some initiatives he advocated for in which I felt we could find some common ground. I agree that investment in infrastructure will create jobs and will lead to a strengthened and robust economy. I strongly believe the country needs to end the partisan gridlock in the federal government; people want their government officials to get things done. And I agreed with the President that Congress needed to pass the three long-pending trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea.
The Panama, Colombia, and South Korea free trade agreements were first negotiated and completed under President Bush. When President Obama was first sworn-in, he too committed to finalizing these agreements. This week, I was proud to vote for these three “common-ground items.” These three agreements to promote trade between the United States and the three other countries—Panama (H.R 3078), South Korea (H.R. 3080) and Colombia (H.R. 3079)--will play a part in stimulating our economy at little cost to the U.S. tax payer.
The three FTAs will benefit the U.S manufacturing, agriculture, and services sectors, as well as many facets of our economy. While the U.S. delayed the implementation of the FTAs, other countries have been implementing their own trade deals and locking in their advantages. Americans deserve a level playing field to give companies access and the chance to create jobs.
The International Trade Administration estimates that these three agreements will create over 250,000 U.S. jobs in industries like manufacturing, services and agriculture. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the FTAs could boost U.S. exports by $13 billion annually. Trade plays a vital role in creating jobs
The three agreements in total are expected to increase exports from Arizona by $24.7 million per year. The South Korea deal alone will generate over 2,000 jobs in Arizona. In the agriculture sector, these three trade agreements represent almost $2.5 billion in new exports and would generate the economic activity to support overt 22,000 jobs. It is estimated that the increased marketing opportunities for Arizona’s farmers and ranchers will add more than 220 agriculture jobs to the Arizona economy.
The First Congressional District of Arizona currently has 3,758 total jobs directly supported by exports. This number will only increase with the additional incentives to export to these three additional countries. Eliminating tariffs and other barriers on many of Arizona’s agricultural products going into these countries, the agreements will particularly increase trade for a range of Arizona agricultural products, including beef, fruits, vegetables and nuts, and processed food products. These export sales make an important contribution to Arizona’s farm economy, which had total cash receipts of $2.9 billion in 2009.
During my time traveling my congressional district meeting with local farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and business owners, the these trade agreements consistently come up. Our employers and job creators understand that these important bills provide them with growth opportunities. I understand that job creation is best when left to private companies and that the best thing the federal government can do is allow the opportunities for the free market to work. When our local businesses and industries succeed, our community will get stronger. Again, that is precisely what the approval of these free trade agreements achieves.
These agreements demonstrate that as Americans, we are not afraid of competition. We can make good products, grow great food and harvest our resources in a manner that is globally successful.
*** Congressman Paul A. Gosar represents Arizona’s First Congressional District***