01.31.2011 1

Trade Agreements are Good for America Part 1

By Rebekah Rast –

There’s no question that we live in global environment.

We buy products from all nations, eat foods from all around the world and interact daily with people from all different countries.

It is important that America participates in this changing world, or it will be left behind. The more America opens up to the idea of trade agreements with other countries the more competitive and productive it will be.

“The world’s changed. It’s not enough to just buy American you need to sell American all throughout the world,” says U.S. Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) in an exclusively interview with Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “Unfortunately this past Congress and the White House have refused to help us level the playing field.”

Rep. Brady is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade. He is a firm believer in trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

“South Korea, Colombia and Panama are together worth almost $13 billion of new sales for our U.S. goods and services,” Rep. Brady went on to say. “So we are going to create a lot of jobs and find new customers that will help us get out of this economic recession, if we can open those markets. The President has indicated that he is willing to move South Korea, he needs to move all three and go beyond that—open those new markets and let us compete.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Congressional debate on the proposed South Korea free trade deal could begin as soon as March. The article goes on to say, “Once the deal reaches Congress, it will be debated not only on its merit, but on its timing in relation to other pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.”

In a hearing before the Committee on Ways and Means on Jan. 25, The Council of the Americas, which is a business organization representing some 190 member companies invested in and doing business throughout the Western Hemisphere, issued a statement of strong support to expand trade and investment throughout the Americas.

One of the arguments for such trade agreements is that it will retain America’s competitiveness with South America and the rest of the world.

Having a trade deficit, like the U.S. has, is not necessarily bad, but it does impact the country’s ability to compete with other world powers.

“Unfortunately we don’t have agreements with China, Europe, and other parts of the world, but other countries are reaching those agreements, shutting us out and putting us at a disadvantage,” Rep. Brady says. “The more agreements that give us two-way trade, a level playing field, the better it is for us.”

Trade agreements that America are involved in, like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), help to stimulate our economy by manufacturing goods and services here in the U.S. and by providing jobs.

“Most of our deficit in trade is with countries we don’t have trade agreements with,” Rep. Brady explains to ALG. “The ones we actually reach agreements with we sell more goods and services. In fact, we have a big surplus of sales.”

Though America exposing itself to more trade agreements would not cure the nation’s economy on its own, it would be a step in that direction.

“Freedom in every avenue in life is a good thing,” says Don Todd, senior research director at ALG, “whether it is freedom in trade or in political action. Moves towards restricting free trade are moves toward restricting freedom. Freedom leads to a healthier and more productive economy.”

As Congress and the President work together to negotiate trade agreements with other countries, other hindrances to U.S. competitiveness should come into the light as well. America’s tax policies, labor laws and the current levels of goods and services produced in the United States also need to be altered to enhance the country’s global image.

A willingness to begin trade agreements with other countries is a willingness to participate and compete in an ever-changing global environment that will boost U.S. jobs and tax revenues. A good first step for a country that’s on an unsustainable fiscal path.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau. You can follow her on Twitter at @RebekahRast.

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