Cornyn Participates In Free Trade Bill Signing Ceremony


In: All News   Posted 09/03/2003
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined President George W. Bush, administration officials and members of Congress in a White House bill-signing ceremony Wednesday for free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore. Bush signed the legislation that was passed by the Senate before the August recess."These agreements will reduce foreign trade barriers, increase export opportunities for American businesses, and create jobs for American workers,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I believe more free trade will be good for American markets, American businesses and American workers.” the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, H. R. 2738, was passed by the Senate on July 31 by a vote of 66-31. The United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, H. R. 2729, was also passed by the Senate on July 31 by a vote of 66-32. Sen. Cornyn is a member of the Congressional Oversight Group on Trade which supervises and consults with the U.S. Trade Representative. He also serves on the President’s Export Council.- Below is the complete text of Sen. Cornyn’s statement as prepared -- `SENATE FLOOR STATEMENT `FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS WITH CHILE AND SINGAPORE `THURSDAY JULY 31, 2003 `Mr. President, I rise today to speak in favor of the free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore. these agreements are consistent with the longstanding policy of the United States to negotiate agreements that reduce foreign trade barriers, increase export opportunities for American businesses, and create jobs for American workers. I understand the concerns of my colleagues about certain immigration provisions contained within these two agreements. I recently helped chair a Judiciary Committee hearing where representatives of the United States Trade Representative’s office explained the reasoning for such provisions. I also discussed this issue with Ambassador Zoellick last week. the fact is that our lack of a Free Trade Agreement with Chile today costs American exporters an estimated $800 million per year in sales, affecting approximately 10,000 U.S. jobs. That’s an enormous amount. And that’s just one of the reasons I am in favor of these Free Trade Agreements, because I believe they will be good for American markets, American businesses and American workers. `Mr. President, immigration policy is the responsibility of the Congress. I want to assure my colleagues that enactment of these agreements does not infringe in any way on that authority or responsibility. the United States Trade Representative has been very responsive and open to the concerns of Senators. On at least seven occasions since October of last year, U.S.T.R. provided formal briefings to Judiciary Committee staff about the immigration sections in these treaties. U.S.T.R. has welcomed the input of Senators on immigration and other issues covered by these treaties. `Over the past several months, some of my colleagues have expressed reservations about the temporary nature of the visits under these agreements, as well as the funding for the new visa program, time limitations for these temporary visas, and numerical limitations. the legislation we are being asked to vote on today represents the results of negotiations between the members of both parties on the Judiciary Committee and the U.S.T.R. With respect to the substance of the immigration provisions, there was bipartisan consensus about the content. All of us want to promote trade, but we also want to protect American workers from those who abuse our immigration laws. `Ambassador Zoellick recently expressed to me that he does not approach negotiations with the intention of including immigration provisions. Circumstances vary according to each negotiation and each country involved. And negotiating flexibility must be maintained to produce agreements that provide maximum benefits to American workers. the inclusion of immigration provisions protects the interests of U.S. businesspeople and will better enable them to pursue overseas opportunities to increase American exports. In most immigration matters, the United States expands the number of visas for foreign workers without receiving reciprocal assurances from other countries for access for Americans. the Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements will enable an unlimited number of American businesspeople to reside in these two countries while capping the number of annual entries at 1,400 from Chile and 5,400 from Singapore. these limits will protect American business interests and American workers. And I applaud the U.S. Trade Representative’s office for its efforts in reaching these agreements with Chile and Singapore. the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement will provide numerous opportunities for United States workers and manufacturers. `U.S. companies currently operate at a disadvantage because competitors such as Canada, Mexico, and the European Union already have Free Trade Agreements with Chile. As I said before, our lack of an agreement costs American exporters an estimated $800 million per year in sales, affecting approximately 10,000 U.S. jobs. the agreement with Chile will eliminate tariffs immediately on more than 85% of consumer and industrial goods, and most remaining tariffs will be phased out within the next four years. The result will be a $4.2 billion increase in the US GDP and a $700 million increase in Chile's GDP. the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement will have a similar effect on trade and economic liberalization in Southeast Asia. `Despite its small size, the economy of Singapore is robust and highly competitive. Roughly 1,300 American firms have a significant presence in Singapore, including 330 regional headquarters for American businesses. The establishment of a free trade agreement with Singapore will further increase opportunities for American workers through improved access to this important market. I believe these Free Trade Agreements will be good for American markets, American businesses and American workers, and I will vote accordingly. I respectfully ask my colleagues to do the same.