WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a floor speech on free and fair trade and the importance that international trade plays in supporting Oklahoma jobs. Lankford also reiterated the urgency needed for trade negotiations, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the US-Korea (KORUS) deal, to conclude expeditiously to provide stability to American workers and businesses.
During the speech, Lankford gave several examples regarding how free trade benefits Oklahoma farmers, manufacturers, and the oil and gas industry. While applauding President Trump’s willingness to confront China’s unfair trade practices, Lankford also cautioned the Administration about tariff and trade policies which would result in harmful retaliatory trade measures against the US economy.
Watch the video Here https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=rDQiv-EBex8
(:06-1:04) Let me do a quick history lesson with this body. 1773, as colonies, we were getting more and more frustrated with King George, and we had a lot of issues that we had to raise with him, like a lot of taxes, things that were happening in the judiciary, things that were arbitrary that were coming down. Then it boiled to a head. In December of 1773, a group of American colonists went out to Boston infuriated with the tariff policy over tea. The British East India company had special access that no one else had. They had no taxes and everyone else had a tax – a tariff. And it pushed out all of the other companies except for the British East India company. And a group of American colonists went out to one of the ships, grabbed all the tea in the harbor, threw it overboard, creating the legendary Boston Tea Party.
(1:07-2:35) It was an argument about tariffs. It was an argument about international trade. It was an argument about can American companies trade fairly? And we still talk about it today. It’s interesting to note that in our letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1776, which we now call the Declaration of Independence, in the long list of grievances that we wrote out to King George, we included in it this line, “cutting off our trade with all parts of the world” as one of our big grievances. By the way, that grievance happened to be in between the British government allowing British soldiers to murder inhabitants in America and doing our taxes without consent. Right in between those was cutting off our international trade. We’ve been free traders as a nation since before we were even a nation, and we’ve been passionate about keeping it fair but keeping it free and keeping it open. Free trade is a big issue for us, and for some reason, it has become this big, national conversation again. Should we have free trade and fair trade? Should we continue to engage? What does it mean to have a deficit in our trade? Does it have to be equal with every country that they buy as much from us that we buy from them? Suddenly this has become a brand-new dialogue again.
(3:34-4:51) So let me walk through just a practical view of what it looks like. Charlie and Mary Swanson, they’re Oklahomans. They’re third-generation farmers and ranchers who live in Roosevelt, Oklahoma, a population of a whopping 241 in Roosevelt, by the way, if you want to know, but the agricultural products that they produce help feed the world. They raise wheat, cotton, cattle, and milo. Every year their crops are coming in and they use John Deere equipment. We look at that John Deere tractor and its beautiful green and we think that’s a great American company. Except for part of that equipment also comes in their tractor in its original form from Mexico. Part comes from India. Parts come from Germany and most of it is from the United States. They employ about 60,000 people in the United States. It is a great American company, John Deere is, but their calves are made in Germany, their hydraulic cylinders are made in Mexico. The castings are from Iowa, but the guidance products are from California. Some of the transmission electronic parts they actually come from India. Other parts are from Missouri. But we see that as a great American tractor.
(11:20-13:11) We had unfair trade in 1773 that we protested in the Boston Harbor. We still want fair trade agreements right now. But those trade agreements need to be resolved as fast as possible. Farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma cannot wait a year to find out what’s going to happen in our trade policy. Some of them are on the edge of the knife right now on bankruptcy. They can’t get anything on the future’s market to try to figure out what’s happening in the now to be able to do the basic investment they need to do for this year’s crop. Predictability helps you just like fair and free trade does. So while I understand full well the administration is engaging in trade negotiations around the world, I encourage them to move from talking about these trade agreements to settling them. Getting them resolved with Mexico and Canada, getting the best deal that we can have, resetting this agreement with NAFTA for another generation, as it’s being reset right now, to prepare us for the future. Let’s get that resolved. We need to get resolved our trade agreement with Korea, locking that one in and then finishing out all the area around Asia as well. Twelve of those nations have already resolved a trade agreement that they’re into putting us behind. Those nations are forming contracts now that we need to engage in as soon as we possibly can. There are big issues were China in trade. They have not been fair in all of their trade agreements. We need to resolve our trade agreements with China. And I’m pleased that this administration is leaning in to resolve a long-term issue with China trade. It is about time someone does it. But we also need to get it resolved. We don’t need retaliatory tariffs moving across every industry in our nation destabilizing what we’re doing in the economy. Let’s get these issue resolved.