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A. Smith: We Need to Pursue New Trade Agreements, Enforce Existing Ones, and Hold Bad Actors Accountable

March 30, 2022

Republican Leader of the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) delivered remarks during a full committee hearing with U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, discussing President Biden’s 2022 Trade Policy Agenda.


CLICK HERE to watch Rep. Smith’s opening remarks. 


Rep. Smith emphasized the following priorities:

  • Enforce free trade agreements and hold trading partners accountable.
  • Act quickly to renew key trade provisions, such as GSP and MTB which have been allowed to expire.
  • Address China’s predatory trade practices.
  • Work with Congress to set trade policies that benefit American workers, farmers, and businesses.


Rep. Smith’s full remarks appear below.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome back to the Committee, Ambassador Tai. It’s good to have you here.


Even in this sharply divided era, trade remains a bipartisan commitment of Congress.


I am concerned however that it’s not a priority of the President. 

We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while our competitors push ahead.


The clock is ticking and we can do big things on trade on behalf of the American people.


For example, earlier this month, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our trade agreement with Korea. Since KORUS was implemented, U.S. exports to Korea increased 17 percent, and Korea is now our top export market for U.S. beef.


Free trade agreements give us leverage to address challenges, and we certainly have needed to address a range of implementation challenges over the last decade.


This committee answered President Zelensky’s call to stand with Ukraine with overwhelmingly bipartisan bills to ban Russian energy imports and suspend ‘normal’ trade relations with Russia and Belarus.


The Senate must act quickly on these bills. Time is of the essence and we must hold Putin accountable.


I know we agree workers and jobs should be the center of American trade policy, as it is with USMCA, and negotiate robust, enforceable new trade agreements to create new opportunities for U.S. workers and improve our ability to enforce commitments.


Unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues  allowed our most powerful tool to open new markets for American-made products, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), to lapse.


It is my hope we act quickly to renew it so Americans can compete worldwide.


You have done good work with key allies to move beyond some existing tariffs and related retaliation against our exports, made progress with Japan’s beef safeguards, and initiated new dialogues or frameworks with the EU, UK, Japan, and Kenya.


But I am very concerned that the Biden Administration will not seek to address market access issues.


Endless dialogues and frameworks are no substitute for trade agreements that open markets for American products.

We all know that it’s not just about negotiation, but enforcement as well. We must hold trading partners accountable. 


The strong bipartisan vote for USMCA must not be undermined by Canada continuing protectionist dairy policies or pursuing a discriminatory digital services tax. Or Mexico’s refusal to comply with the agriculture biotech provisions in USMCA.


We cannot be afraid to use dispute settlement to address all these issues.


American workers, farmers, and businesses need the Biden Administration to fully enforce all aspects of our trade agreements – including energy, agriculture, and intellectual property.


That is why we need the Administration to fill crucial agriculture positions like USTR’s Chief Agriculture Negotiator to ensure farmers have a voice at the table.


We must protect the intellectual property that is at the heart of America’s innovation engine. 


Pursuing a TRIPS Waiver, without Congressional approval, hands over cutting edge American IP to China, Russia, and other nefarious actors without any analysis of how the waiver would vaccinate the world better than addressing other barriers is unacceptable.


With the bipartisan Senate compromise as a starting point, Congress should renew the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), which Democrats allowed to expire, and support high-paying jobs in every state.


The pandemic has demonstrated how the U.S. needs to expand capacity to develop and manufacture critical products here at home while working with our allies to ensure reliable supply.


Trade agreements and their rules of origin integrate markets and form resilient supply chains with key trading partners.


Finally, I urge you to deepen your consultation with this Committee to address China’s predatory trade practices.


Both parties agree we need tough action to address the ways China’s distortive policies harm U.S. workers.


Yet 14 months in, this administration has yet to provide a comprehensive analysis of the Phase One Agreement, nor a plan to hold China accountable.


Similarly, if the goal is not to hurt American companies while holding China accountable, why has the Administration only offered a very narrow exclusion process from Section 301 tariffs, with minimal retroactivity? 


I urge you to partner with Congress, particularly this Committee, in setting clear priorities that benefit American workers and Main Street businesses — and executing a plan to achieve them. I am confident that you can do so.


Thank you.