Increasing exports to create jobs in Oregon
Ensuring a level playing field for Oregon farmers and businesses and increasing exports to create jobs
Last week, I supported a bill to boost American exports to Russia—a plan that passed the U.S. House overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, the legislation will allow American farmers, small businesses, and manufacturers greater access to Russian markets and the opportunity to compete fairly in the global marketplace and create jobs here at home in Oregon.
Earlier this year, Russia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), an organization of 157 countries that governs global trade. In order for U.S. exporters to take full advantage of growing markets and reduced tariffs in Russia, Congress has to reverse a now obsolete Cold War-era law we have on the books.
This legislation accomplishes that, ensuring that Russia will not be allowed to impose tariffs on American goods while products from other WTO countries could enter the Russian marketplace with greater ease. In order to join the WTO, Russia had to make favorable trade concessions, including reducing tariffs on pears and cherries from 10% to 5%.
Passage of this law would allow Oregon farmers and businesses to increase exports to Russia. Exports from Oregon to Russia totaled about $105 million in 2011 and directly supported approximately 250 jobs. If this legislation is passed, those numbers are expected to grow.
I was pleased to hear support for this bill from Oregon’s agriculture and business groups. The Oregon Farm Bureau told me that the bill will provide “significant commercial opportunities for U.S. agriculture,” especially Oregon beef.
Oregon potato growers told me that over 50% of all potatoes grown in Oregon are exported to other countries, so easing access to Russia will help them export more potatoes. And Oregon fruit growers told me that yearly Pacific Northwest tree fruit exports to Russia now exceed $20 million, and that this bill would support Oregon pear and cherry growers.
I support greater trade with other countries to create jobs in Oregon. But when a country is cheating in the marketplace, they should be called out on it. This month—after urging from me and the entire Oregon congressional delegation—the U.S. Department of Commerce announced they would investigate illegal Chinese subsidies to plywood manufacturers.
A coalition of U.S. plywood manufacturers—including Columbia Forest Products in Klamath Falls—brought a complaint that China was subsidizing its plywood industry in violation of international trade agreements. Because of the artificially low price of Chinese plywood, American manufacturers are priced out of the market and unable to compete.
The Department of Commerce found a “reasonable indication” that this was occurring, and is now proceeding with an investigation which could result in penalties for the Chinese plywood imports. I joined the entire Oregon Congressional Delegation in applauding the decision by the Department of Commerce.