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Weekly Column: Trade Priorities--Opening More Foreign Markets To Idaho's Workers, Farmers and Businesses

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

International trade is responsible for more than a quarter of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and supports more than 40 million American jobs.  The world wants America’s products and services—whether it is Idaho’s high-quality potatoes and dairy products or cutting-edge memory chips.  In Idaho, trade-related employment grew three times faster than total employment from 1992 to 2018.  As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, I will continue to press the Biden Administration to open foreign markets to Idaho’s workers, farmers and businesses through: 

  • Smart Trade Policies: Countries that agreed to free trade agreements (FTA) with the United States purchased nearly 14 times more goods and services than non-FTA partners.  Our success extends not only to our farmers—the world’s most productive—but to manufacturers as well.  In 2019, the 20 countries that have free trade agreements with us purchased $661 billion of U.S. manufactured goods, or about $50,000 per worker.  History has proven the great value of market access.  From 1950 through at least the first 16 years of this century, trade expansion proved to increase U.S. GDP by $2.1 trillion or more than $18,000 per household.  We can maximize growth and opportunities for Idahoans by increasing the ability to reach overseas customers.  
  • Renewal of Effective Trade Programs: Expanding opportunities through market access is critical for economic growth and national security.  While China continues to negotiate preferential access for its products and services around the world, the United States is standing on the sidelines.  Effective trade agreements—those that expand market access and reduce tariffs—help Americans and disadvantage China.  Indeed, nearly half the trade diversion that resulted from the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement impacted China.  The renewal of important trade programs like the Generalized System of Preferences and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, which work together to expand opportunities to diversify our trade with friendly countries, remains a top priority.  It is past time for the United States to resume global leadership on trade, rather than ceding it to China.  We must actively craft policies that create the employment and growth opportunities the American people deserve.  
  • Holding Trade Partners Accountable: We must hold our trade partners accountable for carrying out our existing trade agreements.  In the 118th Congress, Finance Committee Republicans will maintain vigorous oversight on the enforcement of existing trade agreements.  Last Congress, I successfully pressed for Mexico to comply with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and to allow the importation of Idaho potatoes.  Yet, more must be done.  Regrettably, the Biden Administration’s record on trade enforcement is lacking, with no progress on a number of issues, including barriers to U.S. exports of biotech crops and energy.  In fact, rather than enforcing U.S. rights, the Administration last year chose to waive the rights under the World Trade Organization on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of America’s innovators who developed the COVID-19 vaccines.  I will continue to fight for full enforcement of U.S. rights under all of its various trade agreements.


Americans succeed when given the freedom to compete.  Clearly, we should not support just any trade agreement.  We need bold, impactful trade agreements because we need prosperity and international support now more than ever.  Such agreements will only be achieved if we are prepared to walk away from the mediocre ones.  I will continue to work with Idahoans and my congressional colleagues to press for better market access and enforcement of our trading rights.    

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