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Small Business Owners Join Chairman Graves In Calling for Swift Passage of Pending Free Trade Agreements

Washington, Apr 6 -

WASHINGTON—House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today called for swift passage of the pending free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and Korea during a House Small Business full committee hearing. Trade agreements with all three countries were concluded in 2007; however, no action was taken during the 110th or 111th Congresses. Furthermore, in July, the Colombia-Canada and European Union-Korea free trade agreements will go into effect, placing American small businesses at a competitive disadvantage if the pending agreements are not passed.

“It is imperative that the Obama administration send the pending trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and Korea to Congress for swift passage,” said Graves. “The clock is running and without passage before July, small businesses and farmers will lose more market share to foreign competitors and opportunities to create quality American jobs. Today’s news that the White House resolved details with Colombia on a trade agreement is encouraging, but I believe the Obama administration should expedite all three pending agreements to Congress.

“Passage of the three trade agreements, among other things, means an estimated $10 billion in GDP, an addition of 75,000 American jobs and the ability for U.S. businesses to better compete in the international marketplace.

“During a time of nearly nine percent unemployment, it would be of great detriment for the Obama administration to remain idle on the trade agreements. Passing all three trade agreements is a surefire way to spur job creation and spark long-term growth in our economy.”

Notable Witness Quotes:
Jason Speer, Vice President of Quality Float Works, Inc. in Illinois and representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “The best stimulus package we can receive in this struggling economy would be the elimination of foreign trade barriers. Businesses of all shapes and sizes need the opportunity to enter into new markets in a fair way and free trade agreements represent another opportunity for small businesses to maintain our global competitiveness.  With the passage of the three pending trade agreements, our company and more than 250,000 small and medium-sized companies like ours will have the opportunity to gain market share and provide more jobs.  Simply put, removing trade barriers with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia will level the playing field for American workers, businesses, farmers, and services providers.”

Phillip Wise, Owner and Operator of Wise Family Farm and representing the National Pork Producers Council, said, “The U.S. trade agenda must recognize that by sitting on the sidelines, the United States is forfeiting the ability to compete on a level playing field.  The United States, and no one else, will be to blame when it is left behind as much of the rest of the world engages in global trade liberalization.  Market access gains, economic growth and job creation will be achieved by those who are not afraid to participate.”

Bill Patterson, Founder and Chief Engineer of TEI Rock Drills in Colorado, said, “The free trade agreements now under consideration are vital in providing a level playing field.” He went on to say, “Tariffs often are the largest barrier. Value added taxes are used in many countries and constitute the largest part of any import tariff. All of these cost factors reduce our ability to compete competitively in the international market. Reducing the tariff on our export product will increase our ability to sell more products, which will create more jobs for the people of Montrose, CO.”

To read witness testimony and view related hearing documents, click here.