As we celebrate World Trade Week, it is clear that international trade is a continuing bright spot in the economic landscape, with export markets providing advantages for both California and the United States.
Export growth contributed directly to a 6.2 percent decrease in the U.S. trade deficit between 2006 and 2007, according to the U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.
CalChamber Creates New Coalition for Free Trade
On behalf of the CalChamber Council for International Trade, we are pleased to announce the formation of a new California Coalition for Free Trade. This will be a broad-based group of California companies and business organizations working to secure Congressional approval of the Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
In joining the coalition, we will include your company’s or association’s name on the rapidly growing list of those supporting the Agreements. There is no cost to do so. We will keep you apprised of our activities and bring to your attention ways that you can be supportive of the FTAs.
With the size and important of the California Congressional delegation it is incumbent upon us to make our voice heard regarding the significance of these pending free trade agreements. To join us in this important endeavor, please click here or go to our website, www.calchamber.com/international to learn more.
Free Trade Agreements
The California Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to support free trade agreements (FTAs) pending before Congress that will lower tariffs and foster increased trade between participating nations.
The CalChamber strongly supports the U.S. free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea, all of which are critical to the U.S. strategy to liberalize trade through multilateral, regional, and bilateral initiatives.
A perfect time to visit your Congressional Representative regarding your support for these three free trade agreements would be during their Congressional District Work Period, May 27th – May 30th.
A U.S.-Colombia FTA will increase momentum toward lowering trade barriers and will set a positive example for other small economies in the Western Hemisphere. In 2007, California exported goods worth more than $320 million to Colombia. This was a 60 percent increase since 2006, making Colombia California’s 39th largest trading partner.
Panama has the highest GDP per capita in Central America. Its economy is based largely on the services sector, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the GDP. Services include the Panama Canal, banking, insurance, container ports, and medical and health. Panama has been hailed for the strong growth in its economy and its commitment to fighting corruption, combating narco-trafficking, and promoting democracy. In 2007, the United States had a trade surplus with Panama, with exports reaching $3 billion and imports slightly less than $350 million. California exports to Panama have increased since 2006, and now total over $250 million, making it the state's 41st largest export market.
The free trade agreement with Korea is another big win for the California and U.S. economies. Korea is the seventh-largest U.S. export market in the world (and the sixth largest market for farm exports). In 2007, U.S. exports to Korea reached $34 billion, with U.S. small and medium-sized companies accounting for a third of this total. Korea is California's fifth largest exporting partner.
In 2007, California exported goods worth $7.4 billion to Korea.
The U.S. –Korea FTA will eliminate tariffs on nearly 95 percent of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products within three years, and almost two-thirds of U.S. agriculture exports to Korea will become duty free immediately. The free trade agreement will also address a range of non-tariff barriers and increase transparency in Korea’s regulatory processes.
Act Now! Click here to send a letter to your representative.
Impact on California's Economy
California is one of the 10 largest economies in the world with a gross state product of approximately $1.7 trillion. In 2007, California accounted for $134 billion in foreign exports, 12 percent of the overall total U.S. exports. As one of the largest exporting states, California exports to 223 countries around the world. International-related commerce accounts for approximately one-quarter of California's economy.
The CalChamber, in keeping with long-standing policy, enthusiastically supports free trade worldwide, expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad, and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business.
The United States' standing as world leader depends directly upon its competitive success in the global economy. For the last half century, the United States has led the world in breaking down barriers to trade and in creating a fairer and freer international trading system based on market economics and the rule of law. Increased market access achieved through trade agreements has played a major role in the nation's success as the world's leading exporter.
Click here for a detailed listing of individual Trade Votes by members of Congress, compiled by the Cato Institute.
(All trade statistics were provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce)
Please contact your Representative today!
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