Senate to Hold Hearings on Panama and Korea Trade Agreements

By May 24, 2011Economy, Trade

Tomorrow and Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee will be holding hearings on two of the three pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Up tomorrow is the hearing on the Panama agreement, followed by the hearing on the Korea agreement Thursday. The Colombia FTA had a hearing two weeks ago.

Jason Speer, Vice President of Quality Float Works, will be testifying on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers at tomorrow’s hearing on Panama. His company is a fantastic example of how trade and exports don’t just benefit large multinational companies – but small American manufacturers as well.

Here is a small excerprt of Jason’s testimony:

Quality Float Works, Inc. is the premier manufacturer of hollow float metal balls and float valves in the nation. Our floats are used to level liquid controls in a wide variety of industries including gas, plumbing, oil and agricultural applications. Many products you see and use every day, from gas pumps to air conditioners, could not be operated without float balls. We currently have 23 employees between our primary facility in the suburbs of Chicago, Ill., and a branch office in Dubai, UAE.

Quality Float Works, Inc. is a family-owned small business that has experienced record growth in recent years due to overseas exports. In 2001, exported goods accounted for only 3 percent of our total sales. Since that time, we have seen foreign sales rise steadily as a result of proactive engagement with progressive markets. Last year, international trade accounted for one-third of our total sales. The passage of additional free trade agreements (FTAs) would further expand the opportunity for my business to enter untapped markets that could benefit from our products.

One-third of their sales depend on exports. The Colombia, Panama and Korea trade agreements will lower tariffs on Quality Float Work’s products, allowing them to increase their market share and exports even more.  

NAM Vice Chairman Doug Oberhelman, the CEO of Caterpillar, Inc., testified a few months ago before the House Ways and Means Committee on the Panama FTA, and noted how key that agreement is for Cat and its exports and  American-based jobs. Tomorrow, a company located not all that far from Cat will testify that the Panama agreement will be beneficial as well, for the same reasons and in the same ways. The only difference is the size of the company.

The FTAs represent growth for American manufacturing, American jobs, and the American economy. It’s high time to pass all three as soon as possible.

Doug Goudie is director of international trade policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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