March 03, 2011

Lugar Says Economic Growth Hurt by Obama Administration

President Lacks Commitment to Exports and Trade

U.S. Senator Dick Lugar today said that the Obama Administration is hurting economic growth, especially in agriculture products, because it “lacks a sufficient commitment to exports and trade promotion.”

“We cannot achieve a full economic recovery in isolation from the rest of the world,” Lugar told Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this afternoon. “This is especially true with regard to trade policy.”

Lugar said that the “United States exports roughly 15 percent of our corn production, 45 percent of our soybean production, and 25 percent of our pork production.  Exports and investment growth help to sustain high paying jobs in both our farms and factories.”

“Indiana farmers and manufactures made $14.6 billion in exports last year, but we could doing even more if we achieve trade agreements that eliminate current restrictions.” Lugar said. “One of the largest employers in Rushville, Indiana, builds compressors for commercial refrigeration.  Those compressors are integrated into other products and then sold throughout the world.  They are prized over competing European and Asian products in places as far-flung as Iraq for their dependability and superior customer service.  Yet few may recognize how the economic health of American communities, large and small, depends on our ability to compete for exports.”

“China, Europe, and other competitors are working aggressively to secure trade and investment partners,” Lugar said. “The Chinese see such linkages as essential to their economic future.  But there is no indication that the President is even considering elevating the type of bold trade vision that could invigorate our economy and help us compete in world markets.” 

Lugar said that trade agreements with Colombia and Panama “have languished, largely because of opposition expressed to President Obama by U.S. labor unions.  Delay of these agreements has already resulted in significant loss of U.S. market share in Panama and Colombia. The United States recently lost its position as Colombia’s number one agricultural supplier.  Total U.S. agricultural exports to Colombia decreased from $1.8 billion in 2008 to $827 million in 2010.  U.S. market share is being lost to China, Brazil, and other countries in Latin America that benefit from trade accords with Colombia.”

“The President should be accelerating the priority of much broader trade initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a revival of the Doha round, an agreement with the South American trade group led by Brazil,” Lugar said. “If he does not commit the prestige of his office to an aggressive and broad campaign to open markets, he will be weakening chances for sustained economic growth in this country.”


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