Good morning. I would like to welcome all of you to our hearing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. I would particularly like to recognize Ambassador Beazley from Australian, Ambassador Chan from Singapore, and Ambassador Moore from New Zealand.
I am particularly excited about today’s hearing because we can finally talk about a new trade initiative, one that will create jobs and increase our competitiveness. The recent passage of the Colombia, Panama, and South Korea trade agreements was a tremendous achievement, one that has given the United States new momentum in the trade arena widely recognized around the world. We must now make the most of this new momentum, to seek 21st century solutions to streamline trade, end non-tariff barriers, and inter-connect regulations. Focusing just on tariffs, import quotas, and other traditional barriers to trade is no longer enough to fully open markets. We need to make the processes for selling U.S. products overseas cheaper, faster, and easier. Establishing high-standard, market-based rules of trade through new agreements will also create better leverage to get other countries, like China, to adopt such rules.
That is why I strongly support the TPP negotiations. TPP is a surefire way to create U.S. jobs and expand opportunities for American workers, businesses, and farmers. It will allow American ingenuity to create jobs instead of relying on costly government programs to do so.
Like past successful trade agreements, TPP will open markets for U.S. goods, services, agricultural products and investment by knocking down tariffs and other trade barriers. It will also build on past work to eliminate differing standards that disadvantage us, discriminatory government procurement rules, non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary standards, and inadequate protection of intellectual property rights. At the same time, where provisions in past agreements reflect a bipartisan consensus, such as those relating to labor, TPP should maintain that balanced approach to ensure continued broad support.
What makes TPP a 21st-century agreement is that it also tackles cross-cutting and new emerging trade issues that promote streamlining trade and will define economic competition in the future. These issues include improving regulatory practices, recognizing the importance of efficient supply chains, increasing the role of small and medium sized companies in international trade, and addressing market distortions by state-owned enterprises.
The TPP will deepen our economic relations in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. The world’s most robust and dynamic economies are found in that part of the world. Plus, as a whole, the eight other countries currently in TPP are already the fourth largest goods and services export market for the United States. America’s future economic growth and prosperity depends on our ability to trade and invest more throughout the Pacific. TPP will make sure that U.S. workers, businesses, and farmers benefit from the Asia-Pacific region’s rapid economic growth. I particularly look forward to hearing from our private sector witnesses about how TPP will create new opportunities for them, their workers, and everyone in their supply and production chains.
That is why I want to see the talks finished quickly – mid-year is my goal. I applaud the TPP negotiators for the incredible amount of progress that they have already made and their achievement in reaching the broad outlines of an agreement. I am also glad that the TPP leaders instructed the negotiators at APEC last month to complete their work as quickly as possible. Some tough issues remain, but we can’t slow down our efforts toward achieving a robust agreement. We cannot afford any needless delay to expand U.S. exports and create American jobs.
Another strength of TPP is that more Asia-Pacific countries can join when they are ready to meet TPP’s high standards. Let’s not forget that the United States was not an original member of TPP, but was welcomed in when the Bush Administration announced that we were ready to join. We should seek new entrants from Asia and the Americas. As a result, I welcome the announcements by Canada, Japan, and Mexico that they are considering joining TPP.
New members must be committed to meet TPP’s high standards and not lower its ambition or delay its conclusion. They must be willing to put all issues on the negotiating table. New members must also be willing to adequately resolve outstanding bilateral issues with the TPP countries. Some of these issues may be difficult, but allowing them to remain unresolved is contrary to the high standards and high ambition of TPP. By the same token, we should not let past difficulties in resolving these issues keep us from seeking to resolve them now. Otherwise, we will forever be frustrated by the problems of the 20th century. The new TPP candidates have presented us with a moment of opportunity.
I understand that USTR has started to engage with Congress and stakeholders to identify the bilateral issues that need to be raised with Canada, Japan, and Mexico. I look forward to working closely with USTR as it seeks to resolve those issues.
I would like to welcome all of our witnesses today and thank them for being with us. I look forward to hearing the testimony from both panels.
At this time, I will yield to Ranking Member McDermott for the purposes of an opening statement.