News and information for the worldwide dredging industry

Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print

Free Trade Agreements Will Help U.S. Dredge Exports: Statements by Robert Wetta and Peter Bowe

On Friday, October 21, President Barack Obama signed into law free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. They are the United States-Korea Free Trade Implementation Act, the the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act, and the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act.

These acts will have a positive effect on the ability of U.S. dredge manufacturers to export their equipment, according to the presidents of two dredge manufacturing companies – Robert Wetta of Dredging Supply Company, and Peter Bowe of Ellicott Dredges.

Robert Wetta: “We are excited about the passing of the FTAs. While we are already exporting materials and services to Colombia and Panama, I am anxious for these FTAs to be implemented to see the added benefits and sales, and also to promote new sales into the Korean market.

“I was at a conference this morning (October 21) in New Orleans – the 2011 Ambassador Business Breakfast where DSC was a sponsor – and we had approximately 30 foreign ambassadors to the U.S. attend. The Korean Ambassador H.E. Han Duck-Soo stood up and applauded our Louisiana senators for their vote and made a commitment to have a Korean delegation visit New Orleans every year.

“This is the type of thing FTAs do for us. This type of commitment brings the right governmental officials and business investment companies to our front door to see us. The FTAs will decrease trade barriers, level the playing field for trade between the two countries and set controlling laws on how we trade. I am certainly hoping to see an increase.

“Historically, trade has increased between the countries we have FTAs with. It might not be overnight, but it never is. I applaud the administration and congress for taking the right steps to roll out the red carpet and increase U.S. exports. These are partnership agreements, friendship agreements and serve as a tool for exporters to reach new markets.”

Peter Bowe: “I think the most important way to think about the impact of the FTAs is that import duties are a tax on investment in new equipment, paid by foreign buyers, which favors used equipment at the expense of more efficient modern capacity. Therefore reducing import duties favors all new equipment manufacturers of all varieties and types, and benefits local users in Panama, Korea, and Colombia.

“For the three agreements in question, import duties on dredges were as high as 15 percent and will now go to zero, so the new import duty system will go a long way towards reducing the cost disadvantage of new equipment compared to used.

“For American exporters the foreign import duty reduction will also enable them to remain on a par with E.U.-based exporters, which already have free trade agreements in process with the three countries.

“Finally, as increasing U.S. export demand is the easiest way to increase U.S. economic activity when domestic demand is weak, passing these three free trade agreements should be helpful to GDP growth and employment growth.”

Add your comment:
Edit Module