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Back from Cuba, Sen. Jeff Flake Talks Global Trade at Utah Forum

Andrea Smardon
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks to business leaders at the Utah Global Forum in Salt Lake City.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was in Salt Lake City Wednesday to speak at a forum on Utah business exports. As a graduate of Brigham Young University, he seemed to be received as a local.

Flake is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an outspoken proponent of easing trade and travel limitations with Cuba. Earlier this month, the Republican Senator went to Cuba with Secretary of State John Kerry to recognize the re-established U.S. Embassy in Havana.

“One of the benefits of our new policy on Cuba, it allows us to engage in a more meaningful way with some of our neighbors and colleagues and friends in the Western hemisphere that have not been able to deal with us because of our Cuba policy,” Flake said.

Flake also expressed his support for the proposed trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He credited Utah Senator Orrin Hatch for shepherding trade promotion authority through Congress to fast-track the process, and called it a good example of bipartisan cooperation. Flake said the TPP will give US exporters better access to hundreds of millions of potential consumers. 

“Trade agreements matter a great deal to the country and to Utah,” Flake said. “Those in this room understand all too well that with 95% of the world’s consumers and 75% of purchasing power outside of our borders, we can’t afford to sit back and let the world move on without us.”

Flake said political bickering over foreign policy harms the nation, and he said it’s time to return to a more bipartisan approach.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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