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House committee passes bill that aims to expand trade with Ireland


The House Commerce and Energy Committee has passed a bill opening a trade agreement with the country of Ireland.

The agreement includes an exchange of academic ideas, mutual investments in infrastructure, and encourages joint business ventures.

Rep. Chris Karr is a prime sponsor of the bill.

“What we’re doing here is unique. I know that we have a lot of times engaged with a resolution or meetings with other countries and I think those are really good," said Karr. "What I would like to do is take it one step further, past just saying, ‘we’re your friend, we’re here for you, we support you,' and say, ‘hey lets get together, lets talk about ideas. And lets see what we can exchange as far as ideas, potential trade, and find out where there is opportunities for us.'”

Opponents said they agree with the idea the bill promotes but not the narrow target market.

Timothy Schoonhoven is a policy advisor for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“South Dakota Trade is staffed by a board of professionals. They're able to provide tremendous guidance for our state in identifying target markets where we should be directing our resources," said Schoonhoven. "This act, to establish the South Dakota Ireland trade commission, departs from that model that we are seeing such success through, and instead, identifies a single particular potential partner and devotes resources to that entity without providing supporting justification.”

The committee voted to pass the bill on a nine to four vote Wednesday. It now heads to the House floor.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.