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Ambassador Kirk traveled to El Paso, Texas today to give a keynote address at the 8th Annual Border Security Conference entitled ‘Fostering a New Era of U.S.-Mexico Collaboration to Meet 21st Century Challenges. The Office of Congressman Silvestre Reyes, the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district, in conjunction with the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) hosted the event.
As a major trade and transportation hub, El Paso facilitates the flow of U.S. exports that support well-paying jobs for workers and families in El Paso and surrounding communities. At the conference, Ambassador Kirk highlighted the important trade relationship between the United States and Mexico.
“Here in Texas, it’s plain to see just how important trade with Mexico is. In 2009, the El Paso metropolitan region exported approximately $5.8 billion to Mexico, which comes to over $16 million daily. And there are the bridges over the Rio Grande, where steady caravans of cars, trucks, buses, and motorbikes carry some of the nearly one million people who cross the border in both directions every day.
“Those facts and figures represent real benefits for Texas families. Because trade with Mexico, and in general, supports well-paying jobs here at home. For example, one out of every four manufacturing workers in Texas depends on exports for their jobs.”
He also spoke about the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The agreements will help to increase Texas exports and support jobs and families in El Paso and surrounding communities.
“Each agreement holds significant export opportunities for producers here in the Lone Star State, across a wide range of jobs and industries.
“For example, Texas farmers and ranchers will benefit from the reduction and elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to agricultural trade contained in our trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. These agreements are critical to keeping American agricultural producers competitive in these valuable markets.
“…Texas agricultural producers will be able to sell even more once the agreements enter into force and U.S. producers receive access to the Colombian and Panamanian markets on a more level playing field.”
President Obama has called on Congress to pass the pending trade agreements and Trade Adjustment Assistance as soon as possible. While some details are still being worked out on sequencing and timing, the Administration has applauded Congress's progress toward a path forward for these important initiatives after lawmakers return in September.
After his speech, Ambassador Kirk engaged in a dialogue with the audience on a variety of trade issues, including how USTR is working to open global markets to American businesses, and the increase of enforcement of our trade agreements to give U.S. exporters a level playing field.
Tonight he will travel to Los Angeles, California to tour the Port of Los Angeles on Tuesday. Check back throughout the week for updates on Ambassador Kirk’s trip.