Press Releases

Feinstein: Trade Pacts will Create Jobs, Grow California Economy

‘Vital to promote job growth and will open emerging markets for California’

Washington—U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statements after the Senate passed three free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The agreements were crafted to open foreign markets and create domestic export jobs while not adding to the national deficit.

Senator Feinstein released the following statement:

“At a time when the U.S. unemployment rate stands at almost 10 percent and the unemployment rate in California stands at 12 percent, it is vital that we promote job growth for American workers by securing new opportunities for U.S. manufacturers, farmers, and service providers in expanding foreign markets.

“We live in a competitive world, and the free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama will eliminate barriers to U.S. exports and protect intellectual property and investment with three key U.S. trading partners.

“Other trading partners have signed or are in the process of negotiating free trade agreements with these three nations.

“We simply cannot afford to let our exporters lose market share to our global competitors.

“These agreements will enhance U.S. competiveness by leveling the playing field for U.S. exporters and provide opportunities that our trading partners already enjoy here in the United States.

“According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission, enactment of just one of these agreements—the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement—will create 70,000 U.S. jobs, boost U.S. exports by $11 billion and increase U.S. GDP by $12 billion.

“The Business Roundtable is estimating even more job creation—250,000 for all three agreements combined.

“What is clear is that these three nations are important trading partners, and the importance will only increase.

  • In 2010, South Korea was California’s 5th largest export market with exports totaling more than $8.1 billion, up from $5.9 billion in 2009.
  • In 2010, Colombia was California’s 34th largest export market with exports totaling $408.7 million – a 24 percent increase over the previous year.
  • In 2010, Panama, with a growth rate of 7.5 percent, was California’s 42nd largest export market with exports totaling $252 million.

“Passage of these agreements will provide important openings for California exports which will help create jobs.

  • More than 66 percent of California exports to Colombia will be duty-free after passage of this agreement, saving $27.2 million for California businesses and farmers.
  • More than 80 percent of California exports to South Korea will be duty free following implementation of the agreement, saving exporters $66 million
  • In Panama, California high-quality beef, other meat and poultry products, soybeans, wines and most fresh fruit and tree nuts will become duty free upon enactment.
  • California manufacturers and service providers will also gain access to the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project, which will ultimately reduce transportation costs for California exports.

“I understand there are concerns about the effects of free trade agreements on domestic jobs. I share those concerns.

“I believe past free trade agreements have an overall positive impact on the economy and job growth, but there is no doubt that some Americans have lost jobs due to increased trade. I remain a strong supporter of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which has helped American workers transition to new opportunities in emerging job markets.

“With regard to violence against union activists in Colombia, I feel the best way to confront that problem is through more links with the United States—not fewer—and a greater insistence that worker rights be respected. The trade agreement between our countries, along with the action plan on labor rights announced in April 2011, moves us toward that goal.

“Americans are sending us a clear message: they want Congress to focus on jobs. In this effort, we should leave no stone unturned. Expanding access for U.S. exports to the growing markets of Korea, Colombia and Panama will help create new jobs and increase economic growth.”