Grassley: Progress Toward Trade Expansion

Trade -- ShippingBy Chuck Grassley
United States Senator


Legislation to expand international trade is moving forward in the Senate.  I voted in favor of debating a bill to restore Trade Promotion Authority for the executive branch.  This authority is seen as critical to wrapping up the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement under negotiation between the United States and 11 other countries.  Iowa farmers, manufacturers and services providers generally support both Trade Promotion Authority as a process and the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a trade agreement that would benefit Iowa.

Iowa is an exporting state.  It’s also a state that imports products for use in our manufacturing.  New markets for U.S. products mean investment in the United States and support for good-paying jobs.

Of the top U.S. agriculture exports by value, many of those products are also Iowa’s top commodities:  soybeans, corn, beef and pork.

These exports already provide the backbone of Iowa’s economy and with trade expansion, they could build it even more.   Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, exports of soybeans and pork products, agricultural equipment and financial products like insurance could expand their reach into some of the world’s most attractive markets.  Existing tariffs on U.S. products would fall by the wayside.   A company in Iowa that’s already exporting frozen pork products to Japan or shovel loaders to Malaysia with tariffs as high as 25 percent might be able to export those products with zero tariffs under the agreement.  That’s good for the U.S. producers.

It’s important to remember that trade expansion doesn’t benefit only the big employers that are household names.  New markets are beneficial to employers of all sizes, from John Deere, 3M, Vermeer and Principal Financial Group, to small businesses including those highlighted by the U.S. trade representative on a trip to Iowa last year.  Ambassador Michael Froman highlighted a family farm in Maxwell as an exporter of soy and corn to Asia, and Think Safe, a first aid and safety firm in Cedar Rapids that sells its products in Africa, the European Union, Mexico and Canada.   He said that of the more than 3,300 Iowa companies that exported in 2012, more than 80 percent of those companies were small businesses.

The list of Iowa firms that either already export at least some of their products or want to start is impressively long.  These companies have tremendous potential to increase their international trade for the benefit of Iowans.  However, they need the new market access from lower trade barriers to support increased investment and ideally, new jobs in Iowa.  Congress and the executive branch need to deliver.  I look forward to expanding international trade for the continued success of the U.S. economy.