Small Businesses: ‘We Need To Pass TPA’

Small Business Owners Join Sens. McConnell, Warner & Ernst To Push For TPA’s Passage


HOWARD ICE, ICE Industries: “Good morning, my name is Howard Ice, I’m chairman and CEO of Ice Industries in Sylvania, Ohio. In 1999 when I was 32 I risked everything I had, went into debt and started Ice Industries with our first acquisition in Toledo, OH. We started with 21 employees and about two million dollars in sales. Today Ice Industries has five locations in the US and Mexico, we have nearly 500 US employees and I’m proud to say we just celebrated our 15th year anniversary. Our success couldn’t have been made possible without the opportunities we’ve had from trade. In the US we export nearly 25% of our annual sales either direct or indirect. Among our long list of customers we have six Fortune 50 companies who export our products all over the world. But with a highly competitive global economy and barriers to entry like tariffs, being successful exporting from the United States is very challenging. It is even more challenging considering we only have 20 countries with free trade agreements that we can ship to duty-free. Unfortunately in the past five years the US has continued to fall behind other countries. Mexico for example has over 41 free trade agreements in place and has been the recipient of over $21 billion dollars in new capital investment from many different industries. Year over year sustained capital investment like that is what creates jobs, opens doors to new technology and sales opportunities at home and abroad. That is why now more than ever we need to come together and make some changes. We need the Trans Pacific Partnership to be put in place for further open markets and opportunities. To get that done we need to pass TPA. Smaller corporations like mine depend on trade to grow and to create jobs. It is time for Congress to break down barriers and put our country into a trade leadership position. Thank you.”


DOUG WOLF, Wolf L&G LLC: “Thank you Majority Leader McConnell, good morning. I’m Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, WI. I’m here on behalf of the National Pork Producers Council and America’s 68,000 hog farmers to urge swift passage of TPA. US agricultural has benefited greatly from US free trade agreements, which are made possible by Trade Promotion Authority. TPA gives our negotiators the leverage they need to close trade deals and allows our trading partners to get their bottom-line offers. Just how valuable are FTAs? Since 1989, the year the United States implemented the agreement with Canada and started opening international markets for our products, agricultural exports have nearly quadrupled in value and were a record $150.5 billion dollars in 2014, supporting more than one million jobs. Pork exports increased more than 1500% in value over the past 25 years and were a record $6.67 billion dollars in 2014. Without FTA’s it’s difficult and costly to get our products into other countries. For example Vietnam, which consumes a lot of pork, has a 25% duty on US hams and pork shoulders. We’re negotiating in the Trans Pacific trade agreement to eliminate taxes on our products, which would allow US pork industries to export a lot more to Vietnam. To highlight the importance of FTAs consider that the US pork industry exports more to the 20 countries with which the United States has FTAs than all the other nations combined. For Wolf L&G Farms exports have helped my third generation family farm grow from marketing 1,000 hogs a year to 24,000. Last year pork exports added nearly $63 to the price I received for each hog marketed and that added value was enjoyed by companies throughout the supply chain and supports hundreds of thousands of US jobs. We need to grow our exports to sustain our economy. Particularly considering over 95% of the world’s population lives outside of the United States. We have an opportunity through TPP, which is close to being finalized but we need TPA authority to push it across the finish line. Trade has helped my farm grow and I’m confident it would help my son and daughter-in-law continue to earn a living in the pork industry. Family farms like mine will benefit greatly from new trade agreements, which are only made possible through passages of TPA.”


CHASE ROBBINS, Apex Motorsports: “Good morning, my name is Chase Robbins and I’m the owner of Apex Motorsports in Shelbyville, KY. Apex Motorsports specializes in selling high-performance car parts through our website Apexspeed.com. I founded the business with my business partner in 2010 after I was medically discharged from the Army. Between the two of us we put together $1600 to start our company and have expanded now to a brick and mortar store and today I employ three people. Soon after I started Apex Motorsports, we started selling overseas with great success. As the Senator mentioned we saw an almost 400% jump in sales between 2011 and 2012. Today we export approximately 10% of our products abroad and we’ve been able to leverage our international success to opening a showroom. As our business has grown internationally, we’ve been confronted with barriers that compromise global markets. It was not long after sending our first shipment overseas that trade rules were outdated for our business. Most of the agreements and rules were written before small businesses like ours were able to fully utilize the internet to exploit the global market. Trade agreements offer the best chance to lower barriers and increase market access for small companies like mine. We see a bright future for Apex and other companies like ours in the export market but we need new trade deals to get there. Trade Promotion Authority is the first step towards modernizing trade agreements and I encourage Congress to pass TPA as soon as possible. I’d like to thank Leader McConnell for his work on promoting small business issues like this one and internet sales tax and others. Thank you.”


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): “Well this is a big week in the Senate for trade and I know it’s been - the issue has been - portrayed by adversaries as a step that only benefits very large businesses. So Senator Warner and Senator Ernst and I are here with some small businesses from our states that point out that the export business is for everybody. I’m going to mention my constituent who will be up here shortly. Chase Robbins is president of Apex Motorsports in Shelbyville, KY. He’s got three employees, three employees. He’s seen a 400% jump in sales between 2011 and 2012 and they export 10% of their products. Now that’s not the picture that critics of TPA and trade in general want to look at. But it certainly underscores how much of American business of all sizes benefits from American trade agreements and we’re going to press forward with TPA this week and get it across the finish line. With that let me turn to Senator Warner and then Senator Ernst.”


SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): “I want to thank Senator McConnell for making sure we move forward this week on trade. I think we all have the sense that increased trade is good for American business, American workers and the American economy. In Virginia alone trade accounts for about $19 billion dollars in our economy. It supports 91,000 jobs and echoing what Senator McConnell said, nearly 87% of Virginia companies engaging in international trade are small and medium size companies. So as you’re going to hear from the gentlemen behind us this is a benefit to both small and large companies. Three other quick points, one is as we move past TPA which I hope we’ll pass this week and look hopefully further down the line to TPP. 40% of the world’s economy is engaged in the countries involved in TPP. In many ways we’re going to have a choice whether American rules and regulations and standards are going to set the framework for trade with that 40% of the world or whether one of our competitor nations like China is going to set the rules. The two other comments I’m going to make is, in the past as a state that has seen both the upside and downside of trade, where we’ve had lost jobs in textiles and furniture in past trade agreements. Sometimes we make a mistake between distinguishing between trade and those countries where we have trade agreements. Those countries we have trade agreements I believe with the exception of one we actually have net surpluses so trade agreements are actually quite good. I want to commend the Majority Leader for his action last week where the Senate overwhelmingly bipartisan 78-20 voted to make sure that on future trade agreements we’re going to have strong environmental, labor, safety standards to make sure that American workers are protected on this level playing field going forward. Final point is, we do know that in any trade agreement there are challenges and again one of the things that is working through both the House and the Senate in this package is the notion that those workers that are harmed during trade will be protected by trade assistance. This is a package, this is an area where we’re got bipartisan support. There’s a large number of democrats who are supporting this effort and again I commend the idea that we can bring some of the faces of small business forward that are going to benefit by these agreements going forward. With that I’ll turn to one of my newest colleagues and friends, Senator Ernst from Iowa.”


SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): “And also, thanks to the Leader and Senator Warner for being here today. We do know that trade plays an important role in Iowa’s economy and just as Senator Warner pointed out, some of the aspects of business that would be very helped by trade in Virginia. Iowa is very, very different and I would like to share some of the points of why the Trade Promotion Authority would be beneficial to our Iowa economy. We would stand to directly benefit by opening up international trade that would really boost our agricultural exports and provide new market opportunities, reduce those trade barriers and for our manufacturers create more jobs here in the United States. Just last night I received a letter from more than 70 of our state of Iowa leaders, both in the private industry and from our governor and lt. governor, so it was encouraging to have this letter, again signed by over 70 folks from Iowa supporting TPA. What they were stressing again is how international trade is so important to our businesses, our workers, our farmers and according to the letter, and again some really interesting statistics in 2014 Iowa exported a record setting $15.1 billion dollars in manufactured goods and value-added agricultural products. Nearly 83% of these exports came from small or medium sized businesses. And Iowa farmers exported over $3.5 billion dollars in soy beans, nearly $2 billion in pork, $1.7 billion dollars in corn and just over $1 billion in feed grain and in addition I want you to consider this too because this is pretty astounding for Iowa, according to the Business Roundtable over 448,000 Iowa jobs are directly tied to trade. That is nearly one in five jobs in Iowa directly associated to trade. We are proud supporters of this TPA. I’ve been encouraged by so many members in Iowa to be supportive of this measure. I am glad to see that we are moving this legislation we have over 3,300 Iowa based companies that have exported to nearly 190 countries all around the world. I appreciate your time today, again I want to thank the Leader. Thanks Senator Warner for joining us and to our guests here also. We would love to give them plenty of time to give their stories and answer questions. But again this is very important to Iowa and to many, many other states. So I would love to see this move forward, hopefully this week. Thank you very much for your time.”



Related Issues: Jobs, Economy, Trade Promotion Authority, Middle Class, Free Trade