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A. Smith: American Workers and Businesses Struggling with Record Inflation Cannot Afford Trade Moratorium

December 14, 2022

“The Biden Administration’s moratorium on trade agreements puts the United States on the sidelines while global competitors aggressively pursue markets for their products and services,” Republican Leader on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) said in opening remarks before a Trade Subcommittee hearing examining how the United States can promote sustainable environmental practices through trade.


READ: Brady, DelBene Introduce Resolution to Open New Markets for American Clean Energy Products, Create Jobs, Reduce Emissions


CLICK HERE to watch Rep. Smith’s remarks.


Rep. Smith’s full remarks as prepared for delivery appear below.


Thank you, Chairman Blumenauer, for holding this important hearing today and thank you to our witnesses.


With just 17 days left this year, the window of opportunity is closing to reach a bipartisan agreement to renew two crucial and non-controversial programs—the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB). 


I have not given up hope on getting these programs renewed before the end of the year, but if we are to reach an agreement in short order, and we absolutely should, it will require my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to abandon their efforts to use GSP and MTB as leverage for partisan priorities, like Trade Adjustment Assistance. 


GSP and MTB provide tariff relief to Americans throughout the country on products not made in the United States. They support good American jobs and have long enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Given the topic of today’s hearing, it’s important to note Ways & Means Republicans have supported renewing GSP with environmental eligibility criteria. An action Congress could take this month to improve the environment would be to advance a long-term, bipartisan GSP bill. I hope we won’t squander this opportunity.


Promoting sustainable environmental practices through trade policy is an important topic and both sides of the aisle should work together to advance new trade opportunities for all Americans in ways which raise environmental standards.


The Biden Administration’s moratorium on trade agreements puts the United States on the sidelines while global competitors aggressively pursue markets for their products and services. This trade moratorium also severely limits options for U.S. trade policy to address harmful environmental practices worldwide. American workers and businesses, already struggling with record inflation, cannot afford continued inaction on trade, and U.S. leadership on trade is needed to create jobs, raise wages, and support the environment.


For example, USMCA includes a very high-standard Environment Chapter, backed up by a formal consultation process and dispute settlement mechanisms when needed. Ambassador Tai and USTR are actively engaged in consultations with Mexico regarding illegal fishing and the protection of the vaquita porpoise.


Further, the United States is a world leader in the production of clean energy, including LNG and green technology. We must end the Biden Administration’s war on American energy production, unleash energy exports, and support our trading partners as they struggle with the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 


For example, U.S. LNG is up to 30 percent cleaner than Russian natural gas. U.S. LNG exports can help Europe keep the lights and heat on during this unprecedented time while simultaneously bringing down global emissions.  


A great opportunity to prioritize commonsense energy policy through trade policy is by negotiating an updated Environmental Goods Agreement with trading partners who share our ambition. USTR should promptly renew these negotiations to tear down barriers to additional exports of American-made clean energy products.


Mr. Chairman, the cost of trade inaction is too high. While I welcome increased U.S. engagement on trade and economic issues in the Indo-Pacific region, I fear President Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and other dialogues and frameworks do nothing to expand markets for U.S. exports. 


Further, I fear they will lack meaningful accountability if our trading partners fall short of their commitments, including environmental provisions, including environmental commitments.


As I have laid out, President Biden’s trade moratorium empowers China and other aggressors. 


There are 52 nuclear reactors under construction across the globe, but only two are in our country. Russia accounts for about two-thirds of reactor sales worldwide. China has 14 reactors currently under construction and has announced plans to build 150 new reactors over the next 15 years. 


Nuclear is one of our most reliable, cleanest energy sources, yet China and Russia are doing more to prioritize nuclear than our own country.


I welcome today’s conversation about our trade and environmental priorities, and I look forward to hearing from each of our witnesses. 


As I said, I’m eager to renew our long-expired GSP and MTB programs, which would improve opportunities for American workers and help raise environmental standards around the world. 


It’s also important we avoid additional delay in updating Trade Promotion Authority legislation, through which Congress would set clear priorities for new trade agreements. 


TPA would open new markets for American products and services while creating enforceable rules reflecting our values and goals, including and especially our goals for the environment. 


With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.