Schwab and Gutierrez Tout Record U.S. Exports in Tour of Baltimore Port
BALTIMORE, MD. – U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab met with Baltimore port leaders and business leaders to tout the importance of exports and jobs to Baltimore and the United States as they toured the Port of Baltimore.
“One of the best places to see trade at work is here at the Port of Baltimore,” said Gutierrez. “Over 128,000 jobs are linked to the port—$2.4 billion in wages and salaries generated. It’s an engine that drives growth in Baltimore, Maryland and America.”
Maryland’s overall exports shipments of merchandise in 2006 totaled $7.6 billion, up 70 percent from the 2002 total of $4.5 billion, and went to over 212 foreign destinations around the world.
“Over 40 million tons of bulk and container cargo and some 2,300 vessels move through this vital port each year,” said Ambassador Schwab. “This translates into jobs and economic development for the people of this region and beyond. As the U.S. Trade Representative - and as a Marylander – I am excited by this immense volume of trade and what it means for our economy.”
Gutierrez noted that while countries that the United States has free trade agreements with make up only 7.5 percent of the world GDP, they purchase more than 42 percent of U.S. exports.
Schwab stressed the importance of moving forward on market-opening, pro-growth trade policies.
“Ninety five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. borders. The basis of our trade policy is to break down trade barriers so our exporters can reach those consumers. And the best way we can do that is by concluding and implementing free trade agreements such as those pending in Congress with Peru, Colombia, Panama, and Korea,” Said Ambassador Schwab. “Our exports to our current Free Trade Agreement partners are growing roughly 60 percent faster than to other countries. We should continue to do what has worked so well and stoke the fuel of economic growth.”
“Opening markets is a central piece of President Bush’s pro-growth agenda. Total U.S. exports last year were up 12.7 percent to $1.4 trillion, an all-time record. Our second quarter GDP was 3.8 percent and the single biggest contributor to economic growth was exports,” added Gutierrez.
“Free trade agreements are the best way to open markets and create growth and new American jobs,” said Gutierrez. “Congress is now considering four FTAs with Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea that would open doors to 126 million consumers with a combined GDP of $1.1 trillion.”
“While over 90 percent of imports from Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea enter the U.S. duty-free, our exporters pay hundreds of millions of dollars in tariffs each year. Now is the time to give our American exporters the tools they need to continue to expand and grow,” said Gutierrez.
Schwab acknowledged the concerns about globalization but emphasized the fact that backing away from efforts to deepen and strengthen international trade relations will only undermine the economy’s solid performance. She noted the U.S. economy is strong, with manufacturing output at record levels, and unemployment a low 4.7 percent. In addition, the U.S. created 8.2 million jobs over the last four years, real incomes are rising and inflation is low.
“As the world becomes a single market, the pace of change is accelerating. This can cause uncertainty for individuals and communities and dislocations for others. We must assist workers adversely affected but in ways that do not harm the majority of people who benefit from expanded trade,” said Schwab. “The response to change is not to turn inward. The vitality of the Port of Baltimore is symbolic of the benefits of engaging in trade with countries from around the world. Our economic health and competitiveness depends on our ability to increase free and fair trade.”
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