I would like to thank WITA for hosting us tonight at what is known as the “Trade Prom.” It’s a great pleasure to be here with you and an honor to receive this award from an organization that has done so much to expand the trade dialogue.
I’m especially pleased tonight to be recognized alongside my colleague Greg Meeks. Greg has helped raise the profile of trade and his efforts have helped to make trade policy a bipartisan effort.
I’m also glad you’re honoring Ambassador Mike Froman, who is new to USTR but an old hand on trade policy. Mike, it is good to have you on the job.
I’d also like to recognize those of you here from USTR. USTR employees are among the most professional and dedicated, and it’s a pleasure to work with you. Our accomplishments – seven bipartisan trade bills last Congress – have been all the more meaningful with the strong partnership we have created.
When it comes to advancing a robust trade agenda, there are a lot of important issues before us this year - TPA, TPP, TTIP, WTO, TISA, GSP, MTB. To quote my kids, “OMG, we have a lot of work to do.”
All jokes (and acronyms) aside, our ongoing negotiations will support more, better-paying jobs here in the United States by dismantling barriers to our exports and creating robust enforcement mechanisms to prevent future barriers.
Our trade agreements are proven job creators. For example, auto exports to Korea have increased 45 percent since the Korean agreement went into force, and our agriculture exports to Colombia have increased more than 200 percent.
Closer to home, I recently toured Rugged Liner, a pickup truck bed-liners manufacturer located in Owosso, Michigan. Its growing overseas sales have enabled this small business to open a new facility, expanding employment from 80 to 120 employees – a 50 percent increase. These examples of job growth are what this country so desperately needs, and what ambitious trade agreements can provide.
Steady, consistent progress on the long list of negotiations is important for the U.S. to remain globally competitive. For example,
- The sooner we can conclude a robust TPP, the sooner we can start expanding participation in TPP.
- A comprehensive U.S.-EU agreement would cover 50 percent of global GDP and serve as an influential model to promote free trade and open markets around the world.
- TISA promises enormous market opportunities for our huge services sector, and for the manufacturing and agriculture sectors that services support.
- And, WTO negotiations on trade facilitation and information technology are a targeted way to deepen trade. I'm frustrated by today's announcement that China has forced us to suspend ITA.
Of course, bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority is essential to propelling these negotiations forward and ensuring their ultimate success. I’ve been working with Chairman Baucus, as well as Congressman Levin and Senator Hatch, for some weeks now to develop bipartisan, bicameral TPA legislation.
As I’m sure many of you are keenly aware, tomorrow morning Ambassador Froman will testify before the Committee at 9 AM, so you’ll have to forgive us if we skip the after party. Mike – I look forward to hearing from you about how we can work together to get TPA done.
While TPA is a necessary and vital tool for Congress, I’m under no illusions that finishing the negotiations themselves will be easy. I have serious concerns about non-tariff barriers in Japan, particularly in the auto and agricultural sector. With the EU, we face discriminatory regulatory barriers to U.S. agriculture exports. We must also find a way to address overwhelming concerns in Congress about unfair currency practices.
And this is just our current agenda!
We must continue to seek new markets and address trade and investment barriers. Prime targets for this work are with the major emerging economies – China, India, Brazil, and others. Our hearings and the work of Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes have explored both opportunities and challenges in these markets.
We had some encouraging news last week about the China BIT negotiations, and I hope this is the beginning of a more robust BIT agenda. But many problems remain with China. I sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter last week to the Administration outlining many pervasive issues. We must prevent China from exporting its model of state capitalism to other countries.
We’ve also seen a whole host of troubling measures lately out of India. With its 1.2 billion people, India’s market holds endless potential for world-class U.S. exports, and I want to level the playing field and promote economic growth and job creation through stronger U.S.-India ties.
Overall, our negotiating agenda is so important because it sets forth a more constructive global economic model. For example, I’m encouraged by the Pacific Alliance negotiations among many US-FTA partners in Latin America.
This initiative shows that a regional integration agenda long led by the United States has now truly taken root among our closest friends in the region. I hope the United States will become more involved.
Finally, I want to touch briefly on other trade legislation that I hope to move this year. Rep. Levin and I have just today reintroduced the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, to provide important tariff relief to U.S. manufacturers for products not made in the United States.
Rep. Levin and I have also introduced legislation to renew GSP, and we’re working with our Senate colleagues to find a clear path forward in the Senate that ensures that the bill won’t be amended. We solved a similar problem twice last year, and I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to do so again soon.
I would also like to move a bipartisan customs reauthorization bill focusing on three critical elements: modernization, facilitation and enforcement. The effective legislation that Congressman Charles Boustany of Louisiana has developed to address the pervasive problem of trade remedy duty evasion is essential.
Yes, there is a lot of work. But, as the old saying goes, many hands make light work. Everyone in this room plays an important role in shaping our international trade policy, and I want to thank all of you for your support.
We have proven that by working with one another, we can overcome difficult challenges, seize the initiative and achieve the job creation and economic growth that helps our country prosper.
We have done it before, and together, we will do so again.
Thank you again for this great honor.