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Buchanan Opening Statement at Hearing on U.S.-Japan Trade Agreements

November 20, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Vern Buchanan (R-FL) delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee Hearing on U.S.-Japan Trade Agreements.

Before the start of today’s hearing, Rep. Buchanan and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the Committee, sent a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).  CLICK HERE to read the full letter.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. Japan is one of our most important trading partners, and I’m pleased to discuss the tremendous wins for U.S. companies that the Administration achieved through our new agreements, as well as the opportunity to improve our access to customers in Japan through a comprehensive agreement. 

“Japan is a top trading partner. Its GDP ranks third, behind only the United States and China. The United States and Japan combined account for about 30 percent of global GDP. U.S. goods and services trade with Japan totaled nearly $300 billion last year. Japan is the fourth largest market for U.S. goods, and third largest for U.S. agriculture.

“U.S. exporters are successful in Japan, but there are many challenges. I commend President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer for negotiating new agreements to address significant trade barriers and modernize our relationship. Their success is particularly important for many of our farmers and ranchers, who are now at a huge disadvantage to major competitors like Australia, Canada, the EU, and Mexico because they have trade deals with Japan that exclude us. 

“This initial agreement is a major win for our farmers and ranchers. When we implement this deal in January, we will level the playing field for most of our agriculture exports by matching the tariff rate enjoyed by TPP countries. Over 90 percent of U.S. food and agriculture exports to Japan will either be duty free or receive better access in January. We’ll see these results quickly because the tariff changes can be implemented without a Congressional vote through narrow and exclusive authority for tariffs only that Congress delegated to the Administration in TPA.

“The digital trade agreement is valuable to high-tech as well as every sector of our economy, including manufacturers, service providers, and agribusiness, because digital trade is essential to efficiency and serving customers worldwide. This agreement ensures the free flow of data, prohibits any data server localization, and ensures non-discriminatory treatment of digital products, including taxation. 

“I’m enthusiastic about these initial deals with Japan. But while we recognize benefits for farmers and industries that rely on the free flow of data, we have to press for more. We agree with USTR and Japan that we need to complete a comprehensive, high-standard agreement that levels the playing field for U.S. workers and companies in all sectors of our economy. I commend Ambassador Lighthizer for setting forth detailed negotiating objectives for a comprehensive agreement in 2018, and we must move promptly to complete this agreement. As these negotiations proceed next year, we look forward to partnering with the Administration through improved, robust, and frequent consultations with Congress as required by TPA. 

“Finally, as we push forward with Japan, Congress has a crucial opportunity to access new customers and modernize trade rules with our closest trading partners here in North America. USMCA is a high-standard and comprehensive agreement that I’m proud to support. My home state of Florida annually exports over $12 billion of goods and services to Canada and Mexico, supporting over 700,000 jobs.  USMCA updates these deep trade relationships and makes sure they work well for all Americans. I’m confident that there is strong bipartisan support, and I look forward to voting for it this year. Every day we delay has a real cost for U.S. growth and jobs. 

“Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the witnesses.”