Grassley At the Washington International Trade Association Awards Dinner
Jul 18, 2019
Prepared Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
At the Washington International Trade Association Awards Dinner
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
I am truly honored to be recognized by WITA. Thank you.
This is my second time being honored. I hope though that I don’t have to wait another 18 years to make an impression on you. If I have to, I’ll see you when I turn 103.
Trade is in the news a lot these days. In fact, I imagine the first thing many of you do when you wake up is to see if a tweet on trade will alter your whole day.
Not to gloat, but I am somewhat of a prolific tweeter myself. I have tweeted a thing or two about trade over the years. And I’m sure you’re all closely following my #cornwatch and #soybeanwatch on Instagram.
Now while trade may be prominent in the news recently, it’s always been important.
So I’m glad to be here surrounded by so many folks who understand that America and the world benefit from free and open trade.
I know this first-hand as a family farmer from Iowa. Every third row of soybeans in Iowa gets exported. When we buy fresh fruits and vegetables in Iowa in January at the local grocery store – that is because of trade.
Iowa also has significant pork and beef exports. Maybe not as much beef as they have in Montana, Max, but we’re up there. American farmers produce more than we can possibly consume here in the United States. So we rely on global customers. Export markets are, and will continue to be, vitally important to our farmers.
According to the World Bank, trade liberalization since 1990 has been a significant contributing factor for lifting one billion people out of extreme poverty. There’s now about 800 million left – more than a fifty percent reduction. Also worth noting, trade liberalization has brought jobs and empowerment to women in many poor rural areas.
I voted to join the World Trade Organization and in 1996, I attended the inaugural WTO ministerial in Singapore. I’m proud of that vote. And I’m proud that since then, international trade volumes have increased by 250 percent, creating wealth, jobs, and innovation.
Now a lot of folks are concerned about the state of trade. That’s fair. But failing to take the global challenges we face seriously means risking our global dominance and leadership.
For example, China has been allowed to steal American IP, grossly subsidize its own industries, and keep its market closed, all with vast impunity. The EU continues to block American biotech crops, even though there are clear WTO rulings against it. And a number of countries want to undermine American’s innovation through so-called digital services taxes. We must stand up to these challenges, and take a leadership role in writing the rules of trade for the 21st century.
Right now, my top priority is to get the USMCA ratified.
Trade with Canada and Mexico supports over 12 million American jobs. Since NAFTA went into force, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled. This has been a boon to farming communities, but other sectors have benefited as well. USDA has found that every dollar in agricultural exports also supports another $1.27 in business activity.
The USMCA offers many critical improvements upon NAFTA, which everyone here should already know – so I won’t list them. If you’re here tonight and don’t know the benefits of USMCA – you must not be up-to-date on your job. But I bet in fact that you are up-to-date. So you should be out touting these benefits so everyone knows Americans need access to them as soon as possible.
On a final note, I want to mention just a few of my many good memories of working with Ambassador Baucus. Over the years I grew very fond of our Tuesday afternoon meetings. I particularly enjoyed the free coffee, but the good friendship and deals that developed in these meetings were an added bonus.
Max and I had a strong bipartisan working relationship that allowed us to pass more trade agreements together than any other duo of leaders in finance committee history. Together we got nine trade agreements through the Senate during our time leading the Finance Committee. We did the Jordan, Chile, Singapore, Australia, Morocco, Bahrain, CAFTA-DR, Oman, and Peru agreements together, which was quite a run.
Max, once I get USMCA done, my record as Chairman is going to be eight, and I don’t intend to stop there. Not that it’s a competition.
You know, he’s also the only senator who’s ever surprised me by showing up unannounced at my house in Iowa. I was truly touched when I saw him and his wife standing on my door step, just as I am to receive this award from my good friend today.
To conclude, I look forward to working with everyone here to promote the benefits of international trade, to pass the USMCA, and continue showing the world that the United States is the world’s most dynamic economy because we embrace international trade.