WASHINGTON, D.C. – The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on The 2020 Trade Policy Agenda.
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Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Neal.
“And thank you, Ambassador Lighthizer, for joining us today in person.
“It’s good to finally be back in this historic room. Our Committee has remained busy and productive throughout this pandemic, albeit different than before COVID.
“This is the room where we write laws that shape our country’s economy—and that of the entire world.
“One important key to a strong U.S. economy is a trade agenda that is smart, fair, open, and enforceable. It’s even more important in the midst of the economic hardship caused by the pandemic.
“Mr. Ambassador, you have played a central role in advancing President Trump’s bold trade agenda.
“This Administration’s aggressive trade policy agenda has opened more export markets for American goods and services and created a more level playing field for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses—which is vital for our economic recovery.
“Especially in the face of COVID-19, implementation and enforcement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will bring good jobs back to America and increase paychecks for our workers.
“Once this agreement is in force in two short weeks, enforcement will be essential. The agreement’s strong enforcement mechanisms will ensure Canada and Mexico abide by their commitments so we reap the benefits we bargained for.
“As to China, the President’s Phase One Agreement will create significant opportunities for U.S. growth and prosperity and will enhance fairness and accountability.
“I know you won’t hesitate to use the powerful enforcement mechanism if China fails to live up to its obligations. Republicans agree with the President: we will insist that Americans receive our expected benefits and that China does not backtrack.
“In addition to USMCA and China, the Administration has achieved a Phase One Agreement with Japan that gives our farmers and ranchers new access to an important market that Australia, the EU, and Canada tried to seize from us.
“These three agreements, plus your modernization of the Korea agreement, have created significant energy and momentum for future trade negotiations — momentum that will benefit our country as negotiations with the United Kingdom progress and as we start negotiations with Kenya, as well as Phase Two negotiations with Japan and China.
“Another issue we should discuss today is the World Trade Organization. I reiterate both my strong support for the WTO as well as my frequent calls for reform.
“While the WTO is not perfect, it serves the interest of American farmers, workers, and businesses by tearing down barriers abroad, establishing rules based on our system, and forcing countries to comply through rigorous dispute settlement.
“But reforms are long overdue – the institution is going astray. I thank you for your strong leadership in insisting on real reform and not papering over the WTO’s wayward direction.
“We have to push our trading partners to address China’s consistent practice of subverting the rules.
“We have to establish new and more modern rules to tackle distortions created by state-owned enterprises, technology theft, and subsidies.
“We can’t allow countries like China to dodge their obligations to be transparent and claim they are entitled to special treatment as developing countries when they are economic powerhouses. Bureaucrats within the institution have to stop imposing new obligations on us by fiat rather than negotiated outcomes.
“Mr. Chairman, let’s move to the floor our bipartisan resolution that we passed by voice vote in December, to show the world that the United States is unified in rallying for a strong WTO that serves our interests.
“We must also be unified in denouncing actions by so many economies to seize revenue from our companies through discriminatory digital services taxes.
“Thank you, Ambassador, for holding firm as others try to flagrantly steal revenue they did not earn.
“And let’s move to immediately renew the Generalized System of Preferences and the Caribbean Basin/Haiti preference programs to reduce costs here at home, strengthen our relationships with developing countries, and establish incentives for those countries to work with us.
“Let’s pass a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill to help our manufacturers.
“One last issue: COVID-19 has rocked our economy, highlighting the necessity of durable supply chains to speed our economic recovery and make us more competitive and secure.
“Let’s work together to create market-driven incentives that allow our companies to increase capacity for developing and manufacturing critical products here at home while working with our allies to ensure diverse, dependable, and robust supply chains.
“And in the meantime, let’s suspend duties for medical products if there is no domestic opposition.
“Americans need to return to work. A pro-growth trade policy agenda will create new opportunities, strengthen our economy, make us resilient, and allow us to compete and win.
“Let’s use today’s hearing as an opportunity to determine how we will build, together, on the progress we have made over the last three years and best position America for the future.
“Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
“And thank you, Chairman Neal.”
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