Baucus & 15 Montanans Visit Columbia, Brazil


The following is a press release from Senator Baucus’ office:

Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus has announced the 15 Montana farmers, ranchers and businesspeople he is bringing to Colombia and Brazil this week to meet with local business leaders and top government officials and explore new opportunities for supporting Montana jobs by increasing demand for Montana products. 

 “Montanans make the best products in the world, and they also make the best ambassadors.  So I’m proud to bring Montana farmers and business owners down to Colombia and Brazil to make the pitch for selling more of our world-class products in these important markets,” Baucus said. “Increasing demand for Montana-made products increases demand for Montana workers, and that means good-paying jobs for our state.  Good-paying jobs is what this trip is all about.”

The participants include:

  • Webb and Kathy Brown, Montana Chamber of Commerce, Helena
  • Charlene Campbell, Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre, Missoula
  • Steve Holland, Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, Bozeman
  • Nicole Hagerman Miller, Montana World Trade Center, Missoula
  • Kim Murray, Montana Pulse Advisory Committee, Froid
  • Allan Overcast, Link Communications, Billings
  • Mike Overstreet, Corporate Air, Billings
  • Robert Peccia, CIPP Corp, Helena
  • Jason Porch, Big Sky Economic Development Association, Billings
  • Lola Raska, Montana Grain Growers, Great Falls
  • Jeff Ruffner, MSE, Butte
  • Tom and Carol Spika, Spika Welding, Lewistown
  • Nina Zidack, Montana State University Seed Potato Certification Program, Bozeman

Colombia is one of South America’s top markets for American wheat and holds great potential for barley, pea and lentil and seed potato producers.  Both Colombia and Brazil represent large potential markets for the Montana industries joining the trip, from energy to manufacturing and communications to aviation.

“Exports mean jobs and jobs are exactly what Montana needs. No one understands that better than Senator Baucus.  The trade missions he’s led over the years have provided Montana companies with unparalleled opportunities to expand the market for Montana products and services overseas and support jobs here at home.  This latest mission he’s leading will provide Montana businesses with new tools and connections to strengthen our trade opportunities in two of South America’s most important economies.  As an ambassador for Montana businesses, I’m thrilled to represent our great state in Colombia and Brazil and show these markets what Montana has to offer,” said Webb Brown.

“Export markets are important to companies who want to grow their businesses.  The South America trade mission will pave the way for Montana companies to reach those markets. Exporting is good for Montana, too.  Trade missions like this one will put us on the path of doubling manufacturing exports which will result in 1,500 to 2,000 new high-paying jobs with good benefits in Montana.  Export growth is also important nationally because it will increase employment, decrease the trade deficit and help lower the budget deficit.  Senator Baucus understands all these factors and why each is so important to Montana jobs, and I want to thank him for creating this opportunity for Montana businesses to travel to South America and boost trade with the region,” said Steve Holland.

During the trip,Baucus will meet with senior government officials in Colombia to discuss the pending free trade agreement, which will support American jobs by making it easier to sell American products there.  Since President Obama has not yet submitted the agreement to Congress for approval, American farmers and businesses have difficulty competing with businesses from other countries that have free trade agreements with Colombia.  Specifically, Canada has passed an FTA with Colombia, set to enter into force in the next few months. If the U.S. still hasn’t approved its agreement when that happens, America is likely to lose the entire Colombian wheat market. 

“The delay in ratifying our Colombia trade agreement has cost our ranchers, farmers and small businesses enough already. We are losing business to competitors from countries like Argentina that have negotiated their own trade agreements with the fast-growing Colombian market, and the impending Canadian trade agreement threatens to cut Montana wheat producers entirely out of the market.   It’s time to quickly resolve any outstanding issues and send these agreements to Congress as soon as possible so Montana producers can sell their goods and services in Colombia and create jobs here at home,” Baucus said.

“Senator Baucus recognizes the value of agriculture as the number one industry in Montana, and South America offers new and expanding markets for our growers.  This mission offers a unique opportunity to visit with potential buyers about the unparalleled quality of Montana’s wheat and barley, and I’m excited to be part of the team,” said Lola Raska.  “It’s absolutely critical for Montana farmers that we get a trade agreement with Colombia in place as soon as possible, and I can’t thank Senator Baucus enough for his leadership on this issue.  Wheat is staple of Montana’s economy and the delay of our Colombia FTA is hurting Montana famers and threatening Montana jobs.”

Colombian businesses can already sell some of their products in the United States without paying import duties under U.S. trade preference programs.  The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement would level the playing field and give American businesses the same duty-free access to sell their goods in Colombia.  Link Communications, for example, currently pays a 5-10 percent duty on the equipment it sells in Colombia.  The FTA would eliminate that duty immediately.  Spika Welding, which pays a 15 percent Colombian duty, could see that duty eliminated over the next five years under the FTA. And CIPP, which pays a 5-20 percent duty, would see some of those duties eliminated immediately and all eliminated over the next seven years.

In Brazil, Baucus will focus on building partnerships for Montana business.  He will also meet with top government officials to discuss ways to strengthen trade relations between Montana and Brazil, which is now the eighth largest economy in the world.

As chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, with sole jurisdiction over international trade, Baucus has continuously fought to open new markets for Montana ranchers, farmers, manufacturers and small businesses, and has made an aggressive trade agenda a cornerstone of his job-creation agenda.

During his 2010 Economic Development Summit, Baucus brought ambassadors from China, Chile, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand to Montana to tour the state and develop relationships with Montana businesses.  As a result, each country announced specific new partnerships with Montana, including a $100,000 grant from Ireland to an Irish history program at the University of Montana, and a new partnership between Montana beef producers and Chilean wine makers.  Baucus also visited China last year to explore new opportunities for Montana and bolster his long-standing fight to open the Chinese market to Montana beef.  This year Baucus is bringing top level trade meetings, known as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade Ministers’ meetings, to Big Sky to discuss ways to deepen Montana’s trade and economic relationships with some of the largest economies in the world.


Source:  Baucus Press Office

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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