Agriculture, business leaders praise Abraham for TPA vote
WASHINGTON – Business and agriculture leaders throughout Louisiana praised Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, for voting in favor of Trade Promotion Authority on Friday.
TPA is a procedural step in which Congress designates the President as the point-person for the United States in international trade negotiations. Congress did not ratify any new trade agreements with the TPA vote.
Though TPA has been in existence in some form dating back to President Franklin Roosevelt, the latest version of TPA imposes more restrictions on the President and gives Congress more authority over trade negotiations than ever before.
The new version of TPA gives Congress the ability to set negotiating objectives, requires the President to publish summaries throughout negotiations, allows members of Congress to read proposed negotiations, and requires the President to publish proposed final agreements for 60 days so that members of the public can provide their input on the deal before Congress gives it an up or down vote. Without TPA, the President would have complete authority over all negotiations.
“I voted for TPA because I wanted Congress to set the standards for our new trade agreements, not President Obama. New trade agreements will open Louisiana’s markets to new territory and strengthen our economy. Had we not granted TPA, the President would have had complete control over the process, and that isn’t a scenario I trust. With the new restrictions, Congress and the American people will have the greatest say in crafting our new trade policies,” Dr. Abraham said.
The opportunity for Louisiana to ship its products to new markets received immediate praise from some of the 5th Congressional District’s leading voices on economic development.
Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain had urged members of Congress to support the legislation because trade with Asian and European nations will allow Louisiana farmers to reach more than 1 billion new customers in regions representing 65 percent of the global gross domestic product.
“Louisiana and American agriculture and forestry desperately needs the ability to maximize trade negotiations worldwide to get the best possible results for American workers, farmers, and businesses, consistent with Congressional priorities. One of every three acres of American agricultural production are exported, which provides billions of dollars for our economy and balance of trade. Ag leaders are traveling around the world promoting their state’s unique agricultural commodities, but trade barriers remain. Without TPA, our leaders will be unable to negotiate trade agreements in a timely, transparent and accountable manner,” Strain said.
More than 270 national business and agriculture organizations have signaled their support for TPA because of the potential for new trade deals that will open new markets and grow the economy.
Some of the agriculture organizations supporting TPA include Louisiana Farm Bureau Association, Louisiana Cotton and Grain Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Chicken Council, and the National Grain and Feed Association, among others.
“Trade Promotion Authority is vital to ensure that the U.S. can access new and existing markets for its agricultural products, as almost all U.S. grown commodities are dependent on exports and trade. An average of over 80 percent of U.S. cotton production, for example, is exported to other countries each year. TPA will allow Louisiana and U.S. farmers to increase exports and compete in a highly competitive, globalized economy, which will allow American farmers, suppliers, distributors and their communities to prosper,” said David Crigler of the Louisiana Cotton and Grain Association.
“Other countries are moving forward with bilateral and multi-lateral trade agreements. Without TPA in place, U.S. producers and related businesses will be greatly disadvantaged relative to those in other countries. The hard-working farmers in our country stand ready to continue to efficiently produce high quality food and fiber for global consumption.”
Business organizations have also thrown their support behind Dr. Abraham’s vote for TPA, including some of the district’s largest employers such as Weyerhaeuser and International Paper.
“This legislation is vital to economic growth and job creation of Northeast Louisiana. Exporting goods and services from Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District has an annual economic impact of almost $1.5 billion per year and is responsible for the creation of over 9,300 jobs,” said Monroe Chamber of Commerce President Sue Nicholson. “Tearing down barriers that have shut out U.S. products in the past will open new opportunities for Northeast Louisiana manufacturers, making them more profitable and allowing them to create more jobs. The creation of more good-paying manufacturing jobs in northeast Louisiana would be good news to the many low-income individuals who live here. The Monroe Chamber strongly supports this legislation, and we thank Congressman Ralph Abraham for his support.”
Added Alexandria Chamber of Commerce President Deborah Randolph, “Trade Promotion Authority is a necessary tool to help sell U.S. goods and services to the 95% of the customers living outside of our country. The clear winners of a new trade agreement would be agriculture and large manufacturers, including here in Louisiana. We thank Congressman Ralph Abraham for his courageous support of TPA, which will spur economic growth and job creation in Louisiana.”
Dr. Abraham serves on the House Agriculture Committee and is keenly aware that Louisiana is uniquely positioned to benefit from shipping exports to as many markets as our state’s producers can sell to. Louisiana’s rivers and ports make it an ideal state to capitalize on international trade deals.
“For three hundred years, the Port of New Orleans has served as a vital gateway for waterborne commerce to the world. Passage of TPA is crucial to the Port of New Orleans and all of Louisiana’s ports to expand international trade with partner countries. More than 27 percent of Louisiana’s exports are destined to Pacific countries, significantly contributing to the doubling of Louisiana exports over the past five years,” said Gary LaGrange, President and CEO, Port of New Orleans.
Anyone with questions about TPA can visit our website, Abraham.house.gov, or call our Washington, DC, office at 202.225.8490.