Trade restrictions with South Korea, Columbia and Panama will be loosened, spurring economic development and a Nebraska senator says a provision in the trade bills should help those who might be adversely affected.
Nebraska’s Congressional delegation has touted the trade agreements as nearly instant job makers, boosting exports, especially agricultural exports. Still, some critics contend removing trade barriers will leave some American businesses vulnerable and cost some Americans their jobs.
Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, says the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act added to the trade agreements offers protection.
“Under the bill, displaced workers will receive job training and health coverage. Small businesses will receive help to adjust to foreign competition and farmers can receive training to develop new skills,” according to Nelson. “Taken together, Trade Adjustment Assistance is about restoring and rebuilding jobs.”
The trade agreement with South Korea has the greatest potential. It is the largest trade agreement the United States has brokered since NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement signed in 1995 with Canada and Mexico. The White House projects United States exports to South Korea will jump by $13 billion and create tens of thousands of jobs. America is expected to reap big benefits from open trade with Columbia as well. Panama is expected to provide a modest boost.
Trade agreements have proven beneficial in the past. Nelson says studies indicate trade with Chile jumped by 171% after barriers were removed there and trade jumped with Australia by 114% after the United States signed a trade agreement with that country in 2005.
In 2009, Nebraska agricultural exports alone totaled an estimated $4.8 billion and created 38,400 jobs. The three trade agreements approved by Congress are expected to increase Nebraska annual exports by $120 million, creating an estimated 1,100 jobs.