Dear Dr. Graviss,
Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about U.S. trade policies. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
As you are well aware, Congress faces many challenges regarding America's foreign trade relationships. Currently, the U.S. is still working on several pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the global community is in its 10th year of the Doha Development Round of the WTO. While these FTAs have the potential to increase production in the U.S., we have to make sure that our trade policy doesn't result in an unmanageable trade deficit that ships jobs overseas.
I continue to closely examine each trade agreement, including those still undergoing negotiation, being sought or already agreed to. I recognize that a well-structured trade agreement can provide highly sought after opportunities for Missouri producers, including those in our agricultural and manufacturing sectors, to export their products to foreign markets with fewer bureaucratic hurdles. In fact, I support the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement because it has the potential to allow Missouri businesses to drastically expand exports to Korea, which is already America's fifth largest export market with over $5.3 billion in exports. The agreement will provide expanded access for U.S.-made automobiles, including those made in Missouri, and be particularly beneficial for Missouri's corn, pork, poultry and dairy producers. The agreement has the support of both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the United Auto Workers union. I am hopeful this agreement will be approved by the U.S. Senate this summer.
In the near future, trade agreements being finalized with Panama and Columbia may also come before the Senate for consideration. I look forward to closely studying the final details of these agreements to determine if they will be similarly beneficial to Missouri.
Even as we consider new trade agreements and celebrate the positive economic impact they can have, we must also assist those industries that may not benefit, or even be harmed, by such agreements. I have and continue to support the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. This federal program provides re-employment services and benefits to workers who lose their jobs as a result of increased foreign trade. The TAA program is critical to those Americans who have no choice but to start over when their company moves some or all of its operations overseas. You may also be interested to know that, in December 2010, I supported the Omnibus Trade Act, which kept expanded TAA programs that were authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act running until February 12, 2011. Unfortunately, bickering in Congress has prevented a further extension since then. If you would like more information regarding TAA, please visit http://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/.
The U.S. is the world's leading trade partner and with that comes a responsibility to establish trade policies that strengthen our role in the global economy, but also protect American workers and industry. I will continue to work to advance these important objectives in the U.S. Senate.
Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.
United States Senator