All blog posts related to the issue: International Trade
  • Ron discusses his 2015 economic agenda at 12th annual Oregon Business Summit

    Speaking on Jan. 6 at the 12th annual Oregon Leadership Summit, Senator Wyden outlined an ambitious economic agenda for 2015 that he boiled down to five words: “bigger paychecks for working families.”

    Senator Wyden told hundreds of business leaders gathered for the annual summit at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland that the state economy is enjoying an uptick at the start of this year.

    But he added that the focus must continue to be on the still-too-many unemployed or underemployed Oregonians looking for work to lift them out of poverty and on the thousands of Oregonians eager for more opportunities to climb up the career ladder.

    I have always said government does not create jobs,” Senator Wyden said. “Jobs come from all of you in the private sector. Our role at all levels of government is to help set the temperature right so the private sector can grow, and do what you want to do—hire Oregonians at good wages.”

    He said elected officials at all levels can help meet Oregon’s economic challenges by providing the tools that help with what he calls the “five T’s” -- technology, tough trade enforcement, tax reform, transportation and timber.

    • In the area of technology, Senator Wyden stressed how tech jobs pay better on average. And he discussed the policy needs to keep discriminatory taxes far away from innovations, to keep monopolies from controlling the Internet and to ensure young men and women graduating from college can get those good-paying tech jobs in Oregon. He noted that technology is inseparable from education, both from the standpoint of his bipartisan “Know Before You Go Act” that would gather data to show which schools and programs produce higher graduation rates, lower debt rates, and specific labor market outcomes like salary; and from the standpoint of strengthening partnerships between high schools and local businesses such as the one he visited in Yamhill County between Yamhill-Carlton High School and Meggitt Polymers and Composites.

    • On “tough trade enforcement,” he said it is all about opening global markets to Oregon goods, and then enforcing the rules that already exist. “I believe we should grow things here, manufacture things here, improve them here, and ship them around the world,” he said. He touched on the many outstanding export businesses in Oregon that compete by the rules in international markets and are justly rewarded with job-creating business when those rules are enforced. He highlighted two among the many he has visited recently: MetOne in Grants Pass and Straw Propeller Gourmet Foods in Redmond. Both companies are creating red-white-and-blue jobs right here in Oregon--jobs that Senator Wyden said are why he has fought so hard on the Senate Finance Committee to shape America’s export strategy for the 21st century. He emphasized that export strategy must always ensure Oregon export businesses -- and the jobs they produce here at home -- can compete and win when there’s a truly level playing field. Senator Wyden cited his strong and successful advocacy against illegal foreign competition for the U.S. solar manufacturing sector, including SolarWorld in Hillsboro.

    • His third T is tax reform. Senator Wyden said achieving “bigger paychecks for working families” requires certainty that doesn’t come with Congress’ stop-and-start tax policy. He said nearly three decades after the last comprehensive tax reform that the tax code has become a “rotting economic carcass” that must be healed.

    • On the topic of transportation, Senator Wyden said you can’t have a big-league quality of life with little-league infrastructure but that  unfortunately, Congress has relied on little-league, stop-and-go infrastructure policies for far too long. He noted that the real tragedy is that we know some of the tools that can work – such as “Build America Bonds,” part of a bipartisan bill he introduced to help states like Oregon to complete critical infrastructure projects. He introduced to the summit audience Max Holtzman from the U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund, a very promising $10 billion partnership dedicated to investing in energy and infrastructure projects in rural America.

    • And on the final of his five Ts, timber, Senator Wyden said he is not going to settle for the status quo stalemate in Oregon surrounding timber and natural resources policy. He said timber is the proxy for nearly every other rural issue that has divided Oregon for far too long and that natural resources policy has always required heavy lifting, be it efforts to update the Oregon and California Lands Act or to settle water wars in the Klamath Basin. Senator Wyden said he knows Oregon can have a better rural future when he looks to eastern Oregon and sees how environmentalists and timber came together to create the Malheur stewardship contract and when he looks to southern Oregon and his work with partners such as the Klamath Tribes, Basin water users, Interior officials and the state to write a broadly accepted Klamath Basin settlement.

    Senator Wyden concluded his remarks by challenging business leaders in the year ahead to give a young person a chance to prove themselves, or to hire an older person who simply wants to get back in the workforce. And he made one final ask on behalf of the very special men and women who have already sacrificed so much for all of us. Hire a veteran.

  • Enforcing trade rules to create jobs in Oregon

    Sen. Wyden has long fought for manufacturers in both Oregon and throughout the United States to be on a level playing field worldwide when it comes to their competitors.

    His battle against illegally subsidized Chinese solar companies proved successful on Thursday when SolarWorld announced it plans to add 200 full-time employees over the next nine months, adding a new solar-panel production line and expanding its advanced cell production capacity in Hillsboro.

    The $10 million expansion, which brings the company’s total investment in Oregon to nearly $630 million, increases the total number of Oregonians employed at the Washington County facility to about 900.

    What we are seeing today is a textbook case of how enforcing American trade laws can help create family-wage manufacturing jobs,’’ Sen. Wyden said at a news conference to make the announcement in Hillsboro with SolarWorld USA president Mukesh Dulani.

    The bottom line is we have got more evidence that Oregon can compete and Oregon can win in the global economy, added Sen. Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “We have better workers making high-quality products and they are going to be in demand around the world.”

    He also praised SolarWorld both for the addition of 200 high-tech manufacturing jobs back into the Portland-area economy in the next nine months and for fighting the illegal Chinese subsidy of that country’s solar companies.

    And he thanked Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, whose congressional district includes Hillsboro, for their work with him on achieving justice for SolarWorld.

    At the news conference, Dulani took pride in SolarWorld’s growth, its employees and their perseverance in the face of illegal Chinese business practices. He also delivered his “heartfelt thanks” to Sen. Wyden.

    This day marks a great turnaround for this company and we should all be especially proud,” Dulani said. Today we stand here to say to our workers and to our children …  that solar manufacturing is here to stay, and we will fight very hard to make sure it does.”

    Without Senator Wyden’s support, this will not be possible,’’ he said. “He has been a great friend to this company through all of the tough times and we are very happy to have him here today to celebrate our good news.”  

    After the news conference, Sen. Wyden spoke to about 200 employees at a forum that began with re-hired employees Zach Von Weller and Robert Thatcher presenting Sen. Wyden with a commemorative plaque to say “thank you” for his work supporting the solar industry.

    Sen. Wyden spoke at the employee forum about Oregon’s green manufacturing base and the United States standing poised to be a worldwide leader in cutting-edge solar research, development and production.

    Sen. Wyden told the employees that he had sounded the alarm three years ago that China was taking America’s “manufacturing jobs” by dumping products in the United States below cost. He said then and now that the trade laws must be used to enforce the rules of free and fair trade.

    As a result of investigations by Sen. Wyden’s office, by SolarWorld, and ultimately by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission, the evidence became clear that China was cheating and that Oregon workers were hurt.

    These investigations enabled the U.S. government to slap import tariffs -- the enforcement of America’s trade laws -- on solar panels from China.

    The bottom line is these jobs are certainly worth fighting for,” Senator Wyden said, “which is why I am so honored to be a partner in this.

  • Creating manufacturing jobs at home in McMinnville

    As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Wyden knows the importance of innovative partnerships between the private sector and local schools to provide training that will generate good-paying manufacturing jobs in Oregon and nationwide.

    On Tuesday, he saw just such a partnership in action in Yamhill County between Yamhill-Carlton High School and Meggitt Polymers and Composites in nearby McMinnville.

    Meggitt makes polymer-related seals for the aerospace industry and has worked with other local businesses to develop an outreach program for the workforce it needs locally.

    During his visit to the high school, Sen. Wyden heard from top Meggitt officials as well as from school teachers and administrators how the estimated $250,000 the company has contributed to the school over the past three years has benefited students.

    Yamhill-Carlton students have received top-notch equipment and exposure to manufacturing techniques and machinery used at Meggitt, had their manufacturing shop completely rebuilt, and interacted directly with Meggitt executives and employees.

    It’s so exciting what’s going on at the high school,” Sen. Wyden said after an hourlong visit that included touring the school’s metal and wood shops and speaking with an AP government class. “It doesn’t get any better than this.

    From the high school, Sen. Wyden traveled to visit Meggitt’s facility in McMinnville. After touring the facility, Sen. Wyden spoke with about 75 employees and fielded their questions in a half-hour forum.

    He told the employees that he sees his job as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee as working to raise everybody’s wages, which he called “one of the premier economic issues of our time.”

    Sen. Wyden said one in five Oregon jobs depends on international trade, which often pay better than other jobs.

    Oregon prospers, he told the Meggitt employees, when it grows and makes products in the state, adds value to products in Oregon and then ships those products somewhere. He said that’s what happening at Meggitt.

    It’s clear what the ambition is here in McMinnville -- to beat the pants off the competition,” Sen. Wyden said.

    People in politics don’t create jobs,” he added. “The jobs come from you all -- the private sector … If I can help set the climate right, you all can do your thing.”

    Sen. Wyden spoke of how his bipartisan plan to lower the top tax rate from 35 percent to 24 percent would “reward the people who create what I call good-paying red-white-and-blue jobs.”

    Asked his definition of a good-paying job, Sen. Wyden described it as one that “lets you buy a house, buy a car, educate your kids ….maybe even once in a while go on a trip to the coast for a couple of days.”

    He linked the job training that students at Yamhill-Carlton High School are receiving from Meggitt as a vital support to ensure Oregon continues to grow its manufacturing base.

    This is a big piece of Oregon’s economic future,” he said. “Middle-class people are hurting and we need these kinds of jobs.”