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Int’l trade boosts Iowa’s economy

By Staff | Mar 18, 2011

International trade is an important contributor to economic prosperity in Iowa. According to the Business Roundtable, about 2,500 Iowa companies export their products and services internationally.

The export of farm goods is an especially important component of the trade picture. Beef and pork producers are key players in the state’s agricultural economy and both benefit greatly from international customers. The Global Trade Information Service has calculated that the Hawkeye State exports beef products to more than 21 countries and pork products to about 41.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, estimates that every third row of Iowa crops is destined for a market outside the United States.

Keeping the international marketplace functioning properly requires that the United States have sensible trade agreements with many other nations. No one likes to see jobs once performed by American workers shifted overseas, but alarmist, exaggerated claims in that regard are holding up needed trade agreements.

That’s why on Feb. 1, Grassley sent a letter to Barack Obama calling on the president take the lead in ensuring that three pending Trade Promotion Agreements get prompt favorable action in Congress.

“I commend you for highlighting (in the State of the Union Address) the need to strengthen our trade relations with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. However, you also called attention to these three pending agreements in your last State of the Union on Jan. 27, 2010,” Grassley’s letter said in part. “Unfortunately we are no closer today than we were a year ago in advancing these TPAs. I, therefore, reiterate my urgent request that your Administration submit implementing legislation to Congress for each of these agreements without delay. If we are to meet the goal of the National Export Initiative to double exports, we must break down trade barriers beginning with the three TPAs which are already negotiated.”

In a statement accompanying the release of his letter to Obama, Grassley underlined the importance he attaches to these stalled agreements.

“Increasing international trade is key to economic recovery and job creation,” Grassley said. “The rest of the world is moving forward, at the expense of America’s work force. It’s time for the United States to get off the sidelines and start making international trade a priority.”

Grassley pointed out that “according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Colombia TPA, once fully implemented could provide $910 million in gains each year for U.S. agriculture. The potential benefits for Korea are even greater – $1.6 billion for agriculture alone. The result is jobs – jobs we desperately need in the heartland and across the U.S.”

Farm News agrees heartily with Grassley that these trade pacts deserve prompt approval. They are good for Iowa and all of America.

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