WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 12, 2011) — Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) submitted the following statement for the Congressional Record.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the three trade agreements this House is considering with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, respectively. At a time when our national unemployment rate is at 9.1 percent, with 14 million Americans looking for work, we cannot afford to pass trade agreements that cost jobs here in the United States. Instead, I urge my colleagues to bring a real jobs bill – one that will create jobs for American workers – to the floor of the House immediately.
“America depends on trade with countries around the world to expand export markets for our products and create good-paying jobs in the U.S. To achieve fair trade, agreements must not export U.S. jobs or economically harm communities. We must insist that all trade agreements promote environmental sustainability, workers’ rights, and improved living standards for people throughout the world. The negotiated trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea do not meet the standard of fair trade agreements and will leave Americans worse off. I do not support their passage.
“In Colombia, the intimidation and murder of trade unionists and human rights workers is widespread. According to Human Rights Watch, over 50 trade unionists were murdered last year. The Colombian government’s human rights record may be improving but it is still very poor. This is not the time to reward Colombia’s poor record with a preferential trade arrangement. This agreement does not advance fair trade, and I urge my colleagues to vote against it.
“The proposed free trade agreement with Panama fails to create any American jobs. Widely known as a tax haven for multinational corporations, Panama has not shown the inclination or ability to change its status as an off-shore tax shelter. This practice rewards U.S. companies that ship jobs overseas to avoid taxation here. This agreement does not advance fair trade, and I urge my colleagues to vote against it.
“In South Korea, between 2001 and 2009, the U.S. ran a trade deficit in goods of approximately $125 billion. The Economic Policy Institute found that implementation of the Korea trade deal would increase U.S. trade deficit by $16.7 billion and result in 159,000 American jobs lost over the next seven years. According to Public Citizen, almost 8,000 good-paying jobs would be lost in the 4th Congressional District of Minnesota. This agreement does not advance fair trade, and I urge my colleagues to vote against it.
“As we’ve seen with free trade agreements with China, NAFTA, and CAFTA, unfair trade deals cost American jobs. This is why Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) exists — to provide training to workers who lose their jobs due to trade. Considering TAA while we consider these three agreements is evidence that these deals result in the loss of jobs here in the U.S. I support the passage of the needed TAA extension (H.R. 2832) in order to provide some protections for American workers.
“For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to oppose these unfair trade deals and support the badly-needed extensions of TAA.”
Congresswoman Betty McCollum serves on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees.