House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) today announced that the Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and the creation of U.S. jobs. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M.
In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing. A list of invited witnesses will follow.
In 2007, the United States concluded trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Ways and Means has not held a hearing on any of the three completed trade agreements.
Each of the three trade agreements would open new markets to U.S. exports and, in turn, benefit American businesses, farmers, workers, and consumers. The independent U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that the three pending trade agreements, combined, would increase U.S. exports by at least $13 billion. The benefits of trade agreements are also long lasting. Since 2000, U.S. exports to the 13 countries with which the United States has implemented trade agreements have grown almost twice as fast as our worldwide exports.
Colombia, Panama, and South Korea have all concluded trade agreements with major trading partners and export competitors of the United States, so U.S. failure to implement our own trade agreements with these countries could severely disadvantage U.S. exporters and jeopardize U.S. job creation. For example, the Colombia-Canada free trade agreement is expected to enter into force in July of this year, removing significant Colombian tariffs for Canadian agriculture exporters while similar tariffs remain in place against U.S. agriculture exports. Colombia has also implemented trade agreements with Argentina, Brazil, and the MERCOSUR countries. Similarly, Panama has signed trade agreements with Canada and the European Union, which remove a number of key barriers to their exports. The EU-Korea free trade agreement is also expected to enter into force by July 2011 and would provide European manufacturers and service providers with preferential access to one of the most dynamic economies in Asia, to the detriment of U.S. exports.
Over the years, several objections have been raised to these agreements. With respect to Colombia, some have argued that sustained progress to address violence against workers in Colombia and concerns about Colombian labor law must occur before it is appropriate to consider the agreement. However, supporters of the agreement argue that passing the agreement will improve labor protections and express frustration the Administration has not identified concrete steps for Colombia to take to address concerns. Concerns have also been raised about Panama’s refusal to provide the United States with certain information needed to enforce U.S. tax laws. In November, the United States and Panama signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement to address that concern. With respect to South Korea, many stakeholders argued that the auto provisions of the original agreement were insufficient. In December, the United States and South Korea reached a supplemental agreement addressing those concerns.
In announcing this hearing, Chairman Camp said, “Trade agreements are a sure-fire way to support U.S. jobs and boost economic growth by creating new markets for U.S. goods and services, particularly at a time when unemployment is nearly ten percent. The United States cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world is actively concluding new trade agreements that leave us out. The first step to getting back on the field is passing these trade agreements. It is time for the President to submit the three pending trade agreements to Congress for their consideration within six months.”
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
The focus of the hearing is on Congressional consideration of the pending trade agreements and the benefits these agreements will bring to American businesses, farmers, workers, consumers, and the U.S. economy. The hearing will also explore developments with each of these countries that have occurred since the trade agreements were concluded.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, https://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word or WordPerfect document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Thursday, February 8, 2011. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word or WordPerfect format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/