Topic Category: Politics

Whoever said "If it ain’t broke, don't fix it," probably lived in a simpler time. In today's rapidly changing global environment, the United States needs to be proactive and anticipate problems.

Currently, the U.S. is behind the curve. We are a party to only three out of 150 free trade agreements in force around the world. Many of these agreements have evolved into trade blocs, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU). And several blocs plan to expand.

For example, EU accession negotiations are underway to admit 13 Eastern European countries — a move that will make the EU's consumer base twice as large as the United States'. Mercosur, the South American bloc, is negotiating with the EU to establish a trans-Atlantic free trade zone. And recently, ASEAN and China agreed to consider establishing a trade bloc that would represent a market of 1.7 billion consumers.

What's the problem?

As our competitors establish larger trade blocs that eliminate import barriers among member countries, U.S. exports — which still incur duties — are placed at a competitive disadvantage. To remedy this, the U.S. needs to forge new trade agreements that level the playing field. Unfortunately, our ability to do so has been compromised since Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), previously known as Fast Track, expired in 1994.

TPA requires Congress to pass or reject trade agreements “as is.” Without TPA, foreign governments are reluctant to negotiate treaties that Congress could later change. Soon, our Senators will vote on TPA, and it’s essential they support it. TPA served Presidents Nixon through Clinton. Now, President Bush needs it to help our workers, farmers and families.

Exports support more than 12 million higher-paying U.S. jobs, strengthen companies and farms, and improve our tax base, while sending export revenue to local communities through restaurants, retail stores, etc. In 1950, trade accounted for less than 5.5% of U.S. economic growth. Today, it has become an integral part of everyday life, accounting for almost one-third of our economic growth. In fact, one in three acres of U.S. agricultural production is now exported.

Unfortunately, some blame trade for job losses and industry restructuring. In reality, less than 2% of non-farm workers are at risk from imports. Technology, not imports, is the real displacer of jobs. Would we stop technological advancement because a small number of jobs will become obsolete?

In the early 19th century, the English Luddites attempted to destroy textile machines because they replaced weavers. Today, modern-day "Luddites" want to essentially do the same — but have mistaken the impact of technology for trade.

Entering the 21st century is in many ways similar to entering the 19th century. The shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy compelled workers to leave farms in search of factory jobs. Industrialization created fear and demanded that workers learn new skills. Today, with the advent of globalization and the information economy, the U.S. is increasingly specializing in more complex, value-added goods and services. Consequently, new skills again are demanded. But for those who can't adapt, the expansion of trade adjustment assistance that's incorporated in TPA legislation is welcomed.

Without greater access to foreign markets, U.S. companies will suffer. And even companies that don't export are at a disadvantage because, chances are, portions of their components sold locally are incorporated into exported products.

To succeed in the 21st century, improve long-term economic growth and raise our standard of living, TPA needs to become law. Our companies and workers are doing their part, now Congress needs to do the same.

This article was syndicated by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services and appeared in the Houston Chronicle, Greenville News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sunbury Sunday Daily Item, and The Columbus Dispatch in May 2002.
Topic: Politics
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Decisions that shape the North Country are made every day in Washington, D.C., but few will have as much impact on the economic well-being of local companies, employees and their families as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation.

TPA is the legislative mechanism that gives our trade negotiators credibility at the international negotiating table by requiring Congress to vote “up or down” on a trade agreement within a given period of time. This authority, which has been used by each President since Richard Nixon, expired in 1994.

Without it, foreign governments are reluctant to make agreements and concessions that could be changed later by Congress. As a result, the United States is not able to negotiate new trade agreements that eliminate foreign trade barriers.

Today, a growing number of North Country businesses export their goods and services worldwide. Combined with the rest of the country, exports now account for approximately one-quarter of our nation’s entire economic growth.

And companies dependent on exports are not just the multinationals. Local firms and other small to medium sized companies that employ fewer than 100 or 500 workers, respectively, make up 97 percent of U.S. exporters.

Exports create higher-paying jobs, strengthen our local companies and farms, and improve our tax base — while sending export revenue to local restaurants, retail stores, etc. But America's inability to effectively negotiate new trade agreements, as a result of not having TPA, has put our country at risk. And since the September 11th terrorist attacks, our need to generate new economic growth is even more important.

Since TPA expired, the results—or rather lack of them—speak for themselves. Over 130 regional trade agreements are in force today across the globe, however, the United States is party to just three. We are the most competitive nation in the world, yet we rank 26th in the world in bilateral investment treaties.

And our global competitors are not waiting for us to wake up. Our inaction over the last seven years has allowed them to take advantage of our absence from the negotiating table. For example, the European Union (EU) has free trade agreements with 27 countries and is actively negotiating another 15. Approximately 33 percent of world exports in 1999 were covered by EU free trade and customs agreements. That’s three times the amount covered by U.S. agreements.

Farmers, businesses, employees and their families in our region and across the nation feel the impact of U.S. non-participation. U.S. exports currently support an estimated 12 million jobs that typically pay 13 to 18 percent more than the average U.S. wage. In the absence of TPA, combined with slower national economic growth, local companies and workers are at risk.

We urgently need to take action and catch up before it is too late. To preserve our future economic vitality, I urge Congressman John McHugh to allow us to participate in new trade opportunities through the reauthorization of TPA.

This article appeared in the Watertown Daily Times on November 29, 2001
Topic: Politics
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The U.S. economy has slumped to its lowest levels in years. And as we are well aware, when the national economy slows, our region usually feels the consequences earlier, more severely, and for a longer period of time.

In challenging economic times like this, it’s important to promote policies that work — and exports work. In the 1990s, as much as one-third of U.S. economic growth was derived from our ability to sell our goods and services abroad.

And today, one in 10 jobs relies on trade, and these jobs pay 13 to 18 percent more than the average wage. What’s more, twelve million American workers and their families rely on trade-related jobs for their incomes.

But the ability of local companies to export is growing weak. Trade barriers erected by other nations are freezing our goods and services out.

The problem: our trade negotiators lack Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA guarantees to our trading partners that Congress will vote “up or down” on a trade agreement within a given period of time. This authority, which has been used by each President since Richard Nixon, expired in 1994.

Without TPA, foreign governments are reluctant to make agreements and concessions that could be changed later by Congress. As a result, the United States is not able to negotiate new trade agreements that eliminate foreign trade barriers.

Consequently, we have fallen dangerously behind other trading nations. Our competitors are negotiating an ever-growing web of preferential trade and investment arrangements that exclude American products and services.

Consider this:

  • Of the more than 130 regional trade agreements in force today, only two include the United States.
  • Mexico has trade deals with at least 28 countries, and is working on agreements with South America and Japan.
  • The European Union has trade agreements with 27 countries, and is actively negotiating another 15.

U.S. companies, workers, and farmers pay a high price for our inaction on TPA. Compared to other nations, U.S. exporters often face higher foreign duties, greater barriers to services and investment, and higher roadblocks in obtaining regulatory and standards approvals.

We can’t compete under this kind of financial handicap, while other countries negotiate trade deals for the benefit of their own farmers and workers.

This is no time to isolate America from new opportunities, slamming the door on markets that could renew our growth. Today, 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders. Since our domestic markets are mature, we must sell more goods and services to foreign markets.

Fortunately, the answer is clear: growth requires trade, and trade requires TPA. Our farmers and workers can compete and win in world markets, but only if Congress gets us back on a level playing field.

I urge our Upstate New York Members of Congress to pass TPA.

This article appeared in The Saratogian, November 8, 2001.
Topic: Politics
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Decisions that shape the future of Western New York are made every day in Washington, D.C., but few will have as much impact on the economic well-being of local companies, employees and their families as Trade Promotion Authority legislation.

TPA is the legislative mechanism that gives our trade negotiators credibility at the international negotiating table by requiring Congress to vote "up or down" on a trade agreement within a given period of time. This authority, which has been used by each president since Richard Nixon, expired in 1994.

Topic: Politics
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The United States is falling behind many countries in terms of establishing trade agreements. As a result, U.S. companies increasingly are at a disadvantage with foreign competitors that have preferential access to attractive export markets.

For example, of the estimated 130 free trade agreements (FTAs) in force around the world today, only two include the United States. And, only 11% of world exports are covered by U.S. FTAs, compared with 33% for European Union FTAs and customs agreements. Trade Promotion Authority may provide the solution.

More Trade Agreements Are Negotiated Without U.S. Involvement

In recent years, numerous free trade agreements, bilateral investment treaties, and mutual recognition agreements have been negotiated and implemented around the world. Unfortunately, the United States is not party to them.

For example, Mexico has free trade agreements with at least 28 countries, almost all of which were signed since 1990. The European Union has negotiated free trade agreements with 27 countries, and has begun discussions with Brazil and others to establish new ones. Plus, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, and others also have begun to negotiate new agreements.

The U.S. Is at a Loss

The United States currently has in force two free trade agreements: one with Israel and one with Canada and Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The United States has completed negotiating, but has not received Congressional approval of a free trade agreement with Jordan, and is working on agreements with Singapore and Chile.

What is the impact on U.S. companies and their workers? As international competitors gain preferential access to lucrative markets, U.S. firms are put at a competitive disadvantage since their products are subject to trade barriers, which increase their landed prices and decrease their attractiveness.

Furthermore, since potential U.S. trade agreements are not in place, U.S. products, services, and investment are subject to unfavorable standards and regulations, and exclusion from investment protection and liberalization initiatives.

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)

To the disadvantage of many U.S. exporters, importers, and investors, Trade Promotion Authority (formerly known as Fast Track negotiating authority) has not been renewed since 1994. As a result, the United States has not been able to successfully negotiate new trade accords and is losing out to countries that have.

TPA, which served Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, was called for in President George W. Bush’s budget address to the nation on February 27, 2001.

How It Works - What It Does

TPA requires Congress to pass or reject trade agreements — without making any changes. Without it, foreign governments are reluctant to make agreements and concessions that could be changed later by Congress.

Since 1974, when TPA was first implemented, U.S. trade agreements have significantly opened foreign markets for U.S. exporters, resulting in tremendous growth in sales abroad. Under TPA, trade agreements such as the Tokyo Round, the Uruguay Round of the GATT, and NAFTA have eliminated numerous foreign barriers to U.S. trade and investment.

Unfortunately, for many U.S. exporters, importers, and investors, the absence of TPA has prevented the U.S. from keeping up with global competitors. For example, Canada and Chile forged a trade agreement that created freer access to each others’ markets. This has favored Canadian companies a great deal, but has put U.S. companies at a disadvantage.

The proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), which will extend NAFTA throughout Latin America, is unlikely to be completed without the Congressional ability to have an up or down vote.

What’s the Hold-Up?

Trade opponents claim that Trade Promotion Authority is an inherently undemocratic and secretive process. Trade proponents believe this to be untrue. Since no administration wants to submit a trade agreement to Congress that will be rejected, Members of Congress are routinely consulted during negotiations.

While trade agreements cannot be amended on the floor, Congress has ample opportunity to do so beforehand. And, as the final democratic check, Congress can simply reject the deal.

Adding Labor and Environmental Language to Trade Promotion Authority

In a move to obtain a majority of 218 votes in the House of Representatives on TPA this year, Members of Congress likely will add labor and environmental language to a forthcoming bill. This may be similar to the NAFTA labor and environment side agreements.

Many Members of Congress, however, feel this language should be advanced in other, non-trade legislation, while others wish to use trade as an incentive for developing countries to pay greater attention to these issues.

The Backlash Against Free Trade and Globalization

Trade opponents feel that past U.S. free trade agreements, as well as globalization, are not in the best interest of the U.S.

Globalization is a process that involves the integration of national markets through international trade, foreign direct investment, and portfolio investment. Based on free-market capitalism and powered by advances in telecommunications, transportation, and finance, globalization has empowered companies and individuals to generate new wealth in ways undreamed of just a few years ago.

But globalization is also forcing difficult changes similar to those introduced by the industrial revolution — and not all Americans are able to adapt. As a result, the primary challenge of globalization is to exploit the greater upside while minimizing the lesser downside.

Globalization Benefits Developing Nations

According to the Harvard University report, Economic Convergence and Economic Policies, developing countries with open economies grew by 4.5% a year in the 1970s and 1980s, while those with closed economies grew by 0.7% a year. At this rate, open economies double in size every 16 years, while closed economies double every 100 years.

According to the Washington, DC-based Progressive Policy Institute report, Globalization, Poverty and Inequality, “No country has managed to lift itself out of poverty without integrating into the global economy.”

And who would know this better than former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, who said: “In every case where a poor nation has significantly overcome its poverty, this has been achieved while engaging in production for export markets and opening itself to the influx of foreign goods, investment and technology — that is, by participating in globalization.”

Opportunities and Challenges Ahead

Globalization can’t be slowed down since no one is at the controls. However, with TPA, the U.S. will be better positioned to seize trade opportunities.

This article appeared in June 2001. (BA)
Topic: Politics
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Western New York's economy has not always kept pace with the rest of the state or nation. And, when the national economy slows, our region usually feels the consequences earlier, more severely and for a longer period of time.

To improve our local economy and shelter it from economic slowdowns, Congress needs to forge new trade agreements that further open foreign markets so our exporters can sell more goods and services abroad. This will create higher-paying jobs, strengthen local companies and farms, and improve our tax base, while sending export revenue to local restaurants, retail stores, etc.

U.S. exports account for almost one-third of real U.S. economic growth and a very large portion of our economic development. Consequently, the income of local workers and farmers and the growth prospects of New York-based businesses are pegged to international trade.

These are the key findings released on March 9 in a new Business Roundtable report, International Trade Benefits New York, which I authored. Other findings in the report:

International trade is a primary generator of business and job growth in the Buffalo-Niagara metro area.

The highest manufacturing employment sectors in the Buffalo-Niagara metro area also are among the state's top merchandise export industries, including electronics, fabricated metals, industrial machinery, transportation equipment (the auto industry) and food and food products. Consequently, as exports increase, employment in these sectors also will increase.

A staggering 71.5 percent of Buffalo-Niagara metro area exports were shipped to Canada and Mexico in 1998, much more than other metro areas.

The North American Free Trade Agreement has created a net increase in jobs in New York. Plus, from 1993 to 1998, Buffalo-Niagara merchandise exports to Canada and Mexico rose by 134.2 percent - significantly higher than the overall Buffalo-Niagara export growth rate.

Less than 2 percent of non-farm workers are at risk from imports, which offer consumers greater choices at attractive prices. Imports allow families to purchase more goods with more disposable income available for education, health care, home mortgages, etc. And lower-cost imported components help local producers to be more competitive worldwide.

The business community and political leaders agree that access to foreign markets is key to local economic growth. Erie County Executive Joel Giambra said: "Erie County companies and workers are very competitive internationally. If Congress can forge new trade agreements that bring down foreign barriers, our local businesses will be able to sell more goods and services abroad and create additional higher-paying jobs. In turn, this will generate greater economic growth for Erie County."

Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-Clarence, said, "From family farms to high-tech start-ups to established businesses and manufacturers, increasing free and fair trade will keep our economy going and create jobs in our community."

Rep. Amo Houghton, R-Corning, noted, "Opening up markets to U.S. exports is critical to creating jobs in the Southern Tier."

Joe McMahon, president of Oxygen Generating Systems, said, "If the U.S. can negotiate new trade agreements that bring down foreign tariffs on our products, we'll be able to sell more abroad and create new jobs here in Western New York." And Francis Chen, president of Mentholatum International, remarked, "International trade certainly has helped us contribute to the growth and employment in the region."

Buffalo-Niagara ranks within the top quarter of fastest growing and largest merchandise export metro areas in the country. Gov. George E. Pataki noted: "New York has created a business-friendly environment by cutting taxes, controlling spending and eliminating red tape. This strategy puts New York companies in a very strong position to compete globally, as well as positioning New York State as an attractive location for international investment. Our aggressive economic agenda reinforces the Empire State as the center of global business marketplace."

Numerous Western New York businesses are succeeding internationally, but more needs to be done. For almost three decades, the U.S. service trade surplus has consistently reduced the trade deficit. In 1999 alone, it decreased the trade deficit by 25 percent. And since 1980, U.S. exports of services have grown 130 percent faster than exports of goods.

New York's private service-producing industries accounted for 75 percent of total gross state product in 1998, a larger percentage than any other state. And in the Buffalo Niagara metro area, 80 percent of non-farm workers are employed in the service sector.

To improve our local economy, companies need greater access to both foreign goods and service markets. To achieve this, we need Congress to forge new trade agreements that further open foreign markets.

This article appeared in The Buffalo News, March 18, 2001.
Topic: Politics
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Since 1974, when Trade Promotion Authority (previously called Fast Track authority) was first implemented, U.S. trade agreements have significantly opened foreign markets for U.S. and New York exporters, resulting in tremendous growth in sales abroad. In fact, U.S. exports rose by 690% between 1974 and 1999.

Trade Promotion Authority requires Congress to pass or reject trade agreements — without making any changes. Without it, foreign governments are reluctant to make agreements and concessions that could be changed later by Congress. Trade opponents, however, claim that Trade Promotion Authority is an inherently undemocratic and secretive process. This is untrue. Since no administration wants to submit a trade agreement to Congress that will be rejected, Members of Congress are routinely consulted during negotiations. While they cannot amend final agreements on the floor, they have ample opportunity to do so beforehand. And, as the final democratic check, Congress can simply reject the deal.

Under Trade Promotion Authority, trade agreements such as the Tokyo Round and the Uruguay Round of the GATT, and NAFTA have been implemented benefitting New York by substantially reducing foreign trade barriers. And, since its implementation in 1994 and despite a Mexican recession, NAFTA is fulfilling its promise.

To the disadvantage of New York, Trade Promotion Authority has not been renewed in several years. As a result, the United States has not been able to successfully negotiate new multilateral trade accords and is losing out to countries that have. For example, since Trade Promotion Authority has not been renewed, Canada and Chile forged a trade agreement that created freer access to each others’ markets. This has benefited the Canadian province of Ontario a great deal and has put New York companies and workers at a competitive disadvantage. Numerous other trade pacts, some involving European and Latin American countries, are in negotiations or have been finalized without U.S. involvement.

The proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas and other economic integration accords under consideration will not only open foreign markets to New York’s goods and services, they will also encourage the expansion of small business exports to developing countries whose economies are growing faster than developed economies. To take advantage of these opportunities, New York needs Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority.

Trade Promotion Authority Assists Small Business

Often overlooked is the tremendous opportunity international trade represents to New York’s small and medium-size businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, one-third of the value of exports are attributable to small businesses. Their well-being is of great importance to New York’s economy. Firms with fewer than 100 employees account for the vast majority of the jobs created during the past five years. Like all businesses, they are actively seeking greater access to foreign markets.

According to data from the Exporter Data Base (a joint International Trade Administration-Census Bureau project), the number of U.S. firms exporting goods tripled from 1987 to 1997. Importantly, small and medium-sized enterprises (companies with fewer than 500 workers) accounted for over 97% of this growth in the exporter population.

Small and medium-sized enterprises continue to increase in number while generating a larger share of total U.S. exports. In 1997, small and medium-sized enterprises accounted for 96.5% of all U.S. exporters. This is up slightly from 1992. And these companies accounted for 30.6% of all U.S. exports in 1997, also slightly up. Very small companies (those with fewer than 20 employees) made up nearly two-thirds of all U.S. exporting firms in 1997.

Small and medium-sized company exports are not limited to the United States’ three largest destinations, which include Canada, Japan, and Mexico. In 1997, small and medium-sized enterprises were responsible for 38% of total U.S. goods exported to the combined China and Hong Kong markets. This is up from a 33% share in 1992.

In addition to eliminating trade barriers, trade agreements also offer a number of conditions that are particularly important in helping small and medium-size businesses take advantage of growing foreign markets. For example, trade agreements eliminate much of the red tape, such as licensing requirements and other restrictions, that has effectively kept small businesses out of foreign markets. Large corporations often can devote the time and resources to figuring out ways to work around non-tariff barriers. Small businesses usually can’t afford to do that. By eliminating non-tariff barriers, bilateral and multilateral agreements give small firms market access similar to that enjoyed by large companies.

Furthermore, one way large corporations have avoided trade barriers is by establishing facilities in foreign markets. Here again, small firms have been at a disadvantage. Generally, they do not have the resources to establish facilities abroad. But, with the elimination of trade barriers, a company will not have to locate abroad to sell abroad. This helps small and medium-size businesses gain access to overseas markets from a base in New York, creating jobs here in the state.

Why Exports Matter: More!, concludes that export commitment by small American firms has surged over the past decade. And it is this commitment to export, rather than the volume or share of exports in overall sales, that is responsible for higher performance. Furthermore, small firms are not disadvantaged relative to large firms in realizing the gains from exporting, the report says. This is key since small businesses now provide virtually all net new U.S. jobs, represent 99.7% of all employees, and provide 55% of innovations.

If the President is granted Trade Promotion Authority, new resulting trade agreements will help small businesses to export more goods and services. This will undoubtedly benefit New York companies and workers.

This section appeared in the report International Trade Benefits New York, published on behalf of goTRADE New York and the Business Roundtable, 2001.
Topic: Politics
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Fresh analysis reveals that international trade has been a vital factor in the economic growth that has occurred in New York. And now, due to global trends, international trade is even more important to the future well-being of the state.

In addition to being a primary generator of business and job growth in the Buffalo-Niagara, Rochester, Syracuse, New York City, and Long Island regions, international trade also affords consumers greater disposable income, improving their standard of living.

But due to a massive dissemination of misinformation, many believe that international trade has contributed to New York’s economic difficulties. In turn, this has led to the belief that erecting trade barriers is a panacea for a variety of economic problems. Nothing could be further from the truth. For example:

  • U.S. exports account for almost one-third of real U.S. economic growth — and a very large portion of New York’s economic development. Consequently, the income of local workers and farmers, and the growth prospects of an increasing number of New York-based businesses are pegged to globalization.
  • Every year for almost three decades the U.S. service sector has enjoyed a significant trade surplus. And since 1980, U.S. exports of services have grown 130% faster than exports of goods.
  • New York is the third largest merchandise exporting state in the United States. And, if state service export data were available and added, total exports would be considerably higher.
  • In 1998, private service-producing industries in New York accounted for 75% of the total gross state product, a larger percentage than any other state.
  • Not surprisingly, the highest employment sectors in most of New York’s metro areas are also among the state’s top merchandise export industries.
  • Imports offer American consumers greater choices at attractive prices and help keep inflation down, one of the most important factors in raising our standard of living. Plus, due to lower-cost imported inputs, such as components and materials, U.S. producers are much more competitive worldwide.
  • International trade sometimes causes employment to increase in some sectors while decrease in others. But exaggerated fears of massive job losses due to imports are misplaced. Contrary to public belief, less than 2% of non-farm workers are at risk from imports.
  • What distinguishes the fastest growing developing countries from the slowest is their openness to trade. In the 1970s and 1980s, developing countries with open economies grew by 4.5% annually, while those with closed economies grew by 0.7% a year. At this rate, open economies double in size every 16 years, while closed economies double every 100 years.
  • From 1993, the year prior to NAFTA’s implementation, through 1999, New York State’s merchandise exports to NAFTA partners increased by 52%. In comparison, New York State’s merchandise exports to the world increased by 6.4%. NAFTA has generated a significant net increase in jobs in the United States and in New York State.
  • To the disadvantage of New York, Trade Promotion Authority (formerly known as Fast Track Authority) has not been renewed in several years. As a result, the United States has not been able to successfully negotiate new multilateral trade accords and is losing out to countries that have.

In order for New York State to prosper in the 21st century, and seize the benefits presented by globalization, it’s imperative that local companies begin or expand exporting efforts. And, it’s essential that elected officials establish policies designed to encourage exports, while passing trade legislation that further opens foreign markets.

Our Goal Is Clear

New York State has significantly benefited from international trade. However, as we enter this new and more competitive era of globalization, international trade is becoming even more important to the well-being of local companies and their workers. In order to improve the standard of living for all New Yorkers, more local companies must enter the global economy and penetrate new markets. In turn, this will help them to grow, increase productivity, and create high-wage jobs.

According to data from the Exporter Data Base, growth of the exporter population has accelerated. From 1992 to 1997, the number of U.S. exporters surged by 86% — but much more needs to be done.

Elected officials need to establish policies designed to encourage local companies to expand internationally, while passing trade legislation that further opening foreign markets.

This section appeared in the report International Trade Benefits New York, published on behalf of goTRADE New York and the Business Roundtable, 2001.
Topic: Politics
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What is the single most important act that our government can perform this year to assure the continuation of the record economic prosperity we've enjoyed throughout most of the past decade and into the new century?

You might say tweak the prime rate or cut taxes. However, there is one thing upon which we can all agree to further open the world's largest markets to American goods and services. This is an effort vital to our economic and national interests.

Congress can help achieve this important objective by passing Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status with China. This would complete a process that started with the negotiation and signing of a landmark market access agreement with China last November.

The pact gave China the U.S. "thumbs-up" to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, for us to realize the benefits of this historic accord, Congress must pass PNTR legislation. WTO rules specify that member nations must grant each other PNTR status.

This deal is a win/win for the United States and New York State. And today, China, including Hong Kong, is New York State’s sixth largest export destination — bigger than Germany or France. Greater access to the Chinese market will result in increased exports and revenues for Western New York, a place where economic growth has not always kept pace with the rest of the nation.

The Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area employs more workers in the transportation equipment industry than any other manufacturing sector. Not surprisingly, transportation equipment is New York’s second highest export to China. And other major employers, which include the industrial machinery, food product, chemical, fabricated metal, electronic, and scientific instrument sectors, also are among New York’s top exports to China.

If Western New York is to catch up and enjoy the levels of growth achieved nationally, we must look beyond our borders to a greater extent. And, since 96 percent of the world’s customers live outside the United States, we need to focus on exports to maintain and create jobs here.

China already has access to our markets; supporting PNTR will not change U.S. tariff rates. It will, however, open the door to China's marketplace. With a population of more than 1.3 billion, we cannot afford to be locked out. The agreement will provide enormous opportunities for our goods. For example, the agreement will:

  • Cut average tariffs from 24% to 9% by 2005;
  • Further cut tariffs on U.S. priority to 7% by 2003;
  • Eliminate tariffs on high-technology goods by 2005;
  • Cut average agricultural tariffs by half; and
  • Remove China's distribution monopoly, allowing U.S. firms to freely distribute their goods in China.

If our Members of Congress fail to vote in favor of PNTR, we will hand over this opportunity to our European, Japanese and other competitors.

But this agreement involves more than just trade; it is an exchange of ideas, beliefs, and values that changes and enriches all who participate. For a quarter-century, U.S. trade has helped change China for the better by supporting economic freedom, human rights, access to information, higher living standards, and the rule of law for the Chinese people.

Successfully integrating China into the global economy also would advance security in the Asia-Pacific region. In fact, Taiwanese president elect Chen Shui-bian said he hopes to see China join the World Trade Organization.

On behalf of Western New York companies, workers, and farmers, I urge Congress to expeditiously approve PNTR with China. Through exports, we can help grow our local economy. In turn, this will create higher-paying jobs locally so our children can live, work, and raise their families in Western New York.

Wade Stevenson is President of the Eastman Export Corporation and a member of goTRADE New York, a pro-trade advocacy group. This article appeared in The Buffalo News, May 19, 2000. (JLM)
Topic: Politics
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Economic growth and prosperity in much of Africa and the Caribbean have not kept pace with the rest of the world. Recognizing this fact, the United States recently passed legislation that could improve the situation — and benefit your business.

Topic: Politics
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