Hoeven: Senate Approves Free Trade Agreements

Pacts Represent More Than $13 Billion in Economic Activity for the Nation

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said U.S. Senate approval of three long-pending free trade agreements was long-coming, but welcome. He said it will strengthen America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace and create jobs for U.S. workers. He said the pacts will benefit farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, across the nation and in North Dakota. 

Hoeven has been working with congressional colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Administration to bring the agreements to the floor of the U.S. Senate for approval. He and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this year met in Seoul with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and prominent Korean business leaders to advance the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.

This summer Hoeven worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to forge an agreement on a Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill, which cleared the way for the Administration to send the agreements to Congress for approval. He also worked with U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk to move the legislation forward, and in June, delivered the national Republican Radio Address to urge support for the three measures.

The trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama combined represent more than $13 billion in increased economic activity for U.S. manufacturers, farmers and ranchers. The largest of the three pacts, the South Korean Free Trade Agreement, alone is estimated to increase the nation’s exports to that country by more than $10 billion and create up to 280,000 American jobs. The Korean agreement eliminates or reduces more than 85 percent of Korean tariffs on U.S. autos, manufactured goods, and agricultural products to the Pacific Rim nation. 

It would also phase out a 40 percent Korean tariff on American beef over 10 years, making it more affordable to consumers and more cost effective for producers. In addition, it would open new markets for American services in South Korea, which is the 15th largest economy in the world and the United States’ seventh largest trading partner. 

“From the U.S. perspective, these agreements eliminate tariffs and swing open formerly closed or restricted markets to more quality American products and services, including agricultural and manufactured goods,” Hoeven said. “South Korea has a $1 trillion economy and 49 million consumers, with growing demand for U.S. products like beef and manufactured goods. The Panama agreement will increase sales for heavy equipment manufacturers like Caterpillar, which has a sizable presence in North Dakota. Most importantly for our state and our nation, increased trade will help to create new opportunities for American businesses and new jobs for American workers at a time when our country greatly needs them.” 

Hoeven said North Dakota has another good example of a trade opportunity in a proposed $135 million beef processing plant that is still in the planning stages. The 450,000-square-foot facility would process 1,600 head of cattle a day, produce beef from a five-state Midwest region and create up to 650 new jobs. Passage of the U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement will make U.S. beef more affordable to Asian consumers and more cost effective for American producers because of the lower tariffs. 

“This proposed project in North Dakota is an example not only of a classic value-added model, but also of how free markets can help to create jobs and provide consumers with a superior product at a lower price,” Hoeven said. “South Korean consumers clearly want quality North Dakota beef, and given the more open market conditions that the U.S.-Korea trade agreement creates, we have a better chance of supplying that demand for them while creating good jobs for our state.”