International trade agreements done right have the potential to create quality, high-paying jobs, and expand exports to help Oregon businesses innovate and grow. Around the world, Oregon’s berries, wine, hazelnuts, semiconductors, sportswear, and other quality products are in high demand. Thousands of small businesses already sell products overseas, and carefully crafted trade agreements would allow them to expand their customer base and hire more workers here in Oregon.
To earn my support, any trade agreement must be good for Oregonians. It must include strong labor and environmental protections, and must also contain rigorous enforcement provisions. The jobs we gain by expanding exports tend to pay high wages, but the globalized economy can put some American workers at risk of being displaced as our economy continues to grow and evolve. We must find ways to reinvigorate those communities and restore jobs to people who have been hurt by globalization, trade, and increased mechanization.
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Chief trade counsel, House Ways & Means Committee
Along with substantial experience on Capitol Hill, Tai spent seven years as a USTR attorney specializing in enforcing trade agreements with China. She is well-regarded by both the corporate and progressive wings of the party and is backed by prominent lawmakers, including Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. A group of 10 female House Democrats led by Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Judy Chu wrote Biden on Tuesday backing Tai as “uniquely qualified” for the job.
U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici were among those named by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to a working group on the agreement, which was amended to deal with concerns House Democrats raised on labor and environmental standards, drug pricing and enforcement provisions.
In a statement timed with the Dec. 19 vote, Bonamici said this:
The full U.S. Senate could soon vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the Trump administration’s new version of NAFTA. The House of Representatives passed the trade deal with a 385 to 41 vote count in December, and the Senate Finance Committee advanced the bill last week.
There were audible sighs of relief in Oregon’s business community after congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump reached an agreement on a new trade pact replacing NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Blumenauer and fellow Oregon Democratic Rep. Suzanne Bonamici both said the agreement contains a number of improvements that helped bring on board Democrats, who have been skeptical of free-trade deals.
The Democratic members were appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and are divided into four subgroups: drug pricing, labor, environment and enforcement.
Bonamici gave a general overview of issues that surfaced at other town hall meetings, ranging from healthcare and immigrant family separations, to the environment, Social Security, Medicare and the Trump administration.
Bonamici began by explaining her view on healthcare, a topic she said many are worried about. "I'm interested in strengthening access to health care, not taking it away," she said. "We need to work together to find a way to make sure that people have access to health care."
Oregon’s hazelnut industry is facing trade anxiety on two fronts: Restricted access to a major customer and low prices offered by a major competitor.
With the annual harvest quickly approaching, there’s not much time left for the looming problems to be resolved.
Hazelnuts are caught in the broader trade dispute with China, which has raised tariffs on the crop while limiting opportunities to avoid duties by trans-shipping through neighboring countries.
In addition to quickly lending her office's support in coordinating efforts to engage the Trump administration on the issue, Bonamici also wanted to connect more directly with those who would be hurt by the escalating trade war with China. She had that opportunity Aug. 8 at the Allison Inn and Spa, where local farmers shared their stories and, through the Associated Oregon Hazelnut Industries, honored the congresswoman with its 2018 Legislative Champion Award.