Chairman Neal Calls for Recommitment to Securing U.S. Trade Deal with Europe

Dec 11, 2020
Press Release
Cites Chinese aggression as a driving reason for greater trans-Atlantic cooperation

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) released the following statement calling for the United States to prioritize resuming trade cooperation and negotiations with Europe: 
“The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement – which House Democrats vastly improved – provides a new standard for trade deals that our nation can use as the framework on which to build a revitalized partnership with Europe. For both economic and geopolitical reasons, prioritizing the pursuit of such an agreement is a strategically sound choice at this consequential moment for our country.
“The year 2020 has upended the lives of millions of Americans struggling to sustain themselves and their families through crises in public health, economic security, and racial inequity. Over the coming months and years, we will need to rebuild our economy, renew our infrastructure, reinvigorate our manufacturing and industrial capabilities, and uplift our workers and citizens. The Trump Administration’s years of haphazard economic policies and bungling of the COVID crisis will make this work even more difficult. 
“Meanwhile, China is on track to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy as soon as 2024, according to the World Economic Forum. From infrastructure development and modernization, to manufacturing expansion, to the creation of a state-issued cryptocurrency, the Chinese Government has spent much of the last decade taking unparalleled actions to strengthen the country’s economic might and exert its influence in the global marketplace.  
“The Trump Administration’s unsophisticated response to these economic and industrial ambitions was limited to laying down tariffs on nearly $400 billion in Chinese imports. Unbothered, China has advanced other troubling initiatives. It’s forcibly assimilated Uyghur and other Muslim and religious minority populations, including through the use of concentration camps and forced labor. Just this year the government has brazenly taken steps to snuff out democratic institutions and practices in Hong Kong. And now, China is menacing Taiwan with threats of invasion.
“President Trump and his advisers’ narrow fixation on tariffs and exclusions missed the forest for the trees. With a new administration on the horizon, now is the time for a full recalibration in how we counterbalance China. We need to think big and act bigger. This is the 21st century’s Sputnik moment – on steroids.  
“We must work across disciplines to formulate a strategic, far-reaching, forward-looking, robust package of programs and investments to defend against anti-competitive, anti-democratic influences of China’s policies. Doing so will allow us to propel American workers, manufacturers, industries, farmers, and innovators into a vibrant future where our prosperity and our values – freedom, equality, and justice – are inclusive.  
“It is essential we engage with allies to accomplish these goals, even though finding common cause and interests is not always easy. Strengthening and recommitting to our alliances with the European Union, our neighbors on the American continent, in Asia, and in Africa will be key to our success. If our earlier trade and economic policies led us to four years of the Trump Administration, the four years of the Trump Administration must lead us somewhere new and better. We cannot afford to pursue strategies that recreate the tired and fragile dynamics of the past. 
“One particularly detrimental blunder of President Trump’s was his abandonment of serious trade talks with Europe. Not only did the Trump Administration put Europe on the backburner, it took active measures to provoke and alienate our European counterparts, to the delight of countries like China and Russia. 
“Our partners across the Atlantic have shown a willingness to embark on a new, substantial trade relationship with the United States, and we should embrace this opportunity. A new U.S.-European trade arrangement will only enhance our ability to moderate China’s intensifying pursuit of growth and prosperity, which threatens to subject the rest of the world to its economic and political dominance. 
“Some in Congress like to talk tough but then take every chance to water down strong China bills. Others make hawkish speeches, then do nothing, claiming that plans and investments cost too much. There is no more time for lip service. It is 2020, and China is unapologetically ambitious and unembarrassed by its authoritarian stripes. Concrete, bold action – like achieving a new trade deal with Europe – is necessary for our nation’s and people’s future economic success. Otherwise, the fault for America’s decline and loss of relevance will be no one’s but our own.”