WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) voted with 69 of his Senate colleagues in support of legislation that would help workers, farmers and small businesses that are negatively affected by free trade agreements. The Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation paves the way for Senate floor consideration later this year of pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
"At a time when thousands of folks in my home state of Delaware and millions of Americans are struggling to find work, my top priority is finding bipartisan solutions that will help workers here at home," said Sen. Carper. "I believe that when negotiated correctly, free trade agreements can help grow the economy and provide more opportunities for businesses of all types. However, that doesn't mean that some workers won't lose their jobs or some firms won't be hurt as a result of free trade. That's why it is critical that we pass legislation that would help displaced workers and farmers develop the skills they need to find new jobs.
"Now that we've passed the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, we will soon have the opportunity to approve three pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Overall, I believe these agreements will strengthen the U.S. economy and provide more opportunities for American businesses, particularly for Delmarva's poultry industry. I am proud that my colleagues were able to come together to advance the trade assistance legislation because it is the right thing to do for our country and for American workers. I believe this is the kind of leadership Americans are looking for from Congress, demonstrating that we can work across the aisle, reconcile our differences and govern."
Trade Adjustment Assistance provides assistance to workers, firms, and farmers affected by increased trade. The program helps small businesses keep more jobs at home and provides training opportunities and other benefits for workers.
Extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance will enable the Administration to send up the South Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements for formal consideration. These agreements will help fuel economic growth by leveling the playing field for American workers, farmers and businesses that are currently at a disadvantage.
One example of a business that will benefit from these agreements is the poultry industry. One out of every five chickens is produced by local growers on the Delmarva Peninsula are exported overseas. However, chicken parts can face steep tariffs for other countries. For example, chicken leg quarters face a 260 percent tariff in Panama, while 95 percent of U.S. imports from Panama enter duty-free. This is a stark difference and these trade agreements will level the playing field for American farmers. Ultimately, selling more chickens in countries around the world means more jobs and revenue for farmers in Delaware, and not just for those who sell chickens, but for the thousands more who are part of the larger supply chain.
In addition, the Trade Adjustment Assistance:
- Restores TAA benefits to workers in service industries as well as manufacturing industries;
- Provides TAA benefits to workers whose jobs are off-shored to any country;
- Authorizes funding for TAA training and makes health care available and affordable for covered workers;
- Assists trade-affected services firms prevent layoffs and become more competitive;
- Help farmers, ranchers, and fishermen become more globally competitive; and
- Extends the expired Generalized System of Preferences both retroactively and through July 31, 2013. These programs lower costs for U.S. manufacturers importing from developing countries and give developing countries duty-free access to the U.S. market for certain products.