Good morning. Welcome to today’s hearing on the benefits of expanding U.S. agriculture trade and eliminating barriers to agriculture exports – key factors in advancing our trade agenda and creating U.S. jobs and economic opportunity. I’d like to make four points.
First, the United States must remain the world’s leading agriculture exporter. We excel at producing and exporting a wide variety of agriculture products. For example, my home state of California is a leading exporter of dairy, beef, fruit, vegetables, and nuts. Global demand for agriculture products is increasing rapidly, creating opportunities to boost U.S. economic growth and create U.S. jobs by selling to these expanding markets.
Second, agriculture exports benefit both rural and urban America. America’s farmers and ranchers increasingly depend for their livelihoods on exports. In addition, two-thirds of the jobs supported by agriculture exports are in the nonfarm sector, in diverse areas such as transportation, financial services, and biotechnology research.
Third, we must tear down tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. agriculture. Tariffs must be eliminated without exclusion. In negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, I am concerned that the Administration is not holding Japan and Canada to the level of ambition that Congress has demanded. In some cases a long timeframe may be warranted, but there has to be a path to zero. If any countries insist on retaining tariffs, then we must complete the negotiations without them and allow them to rejoin when they can commit to full tariff elimination.
A growing concern is non-tariff barriers, particularly unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary or SPS measures. While countries can implement measures to protect human, animal, and plant health, many measures are actually thinly veiled protectionist barriers that ignore science and international standards, and do not enhance food safety in any way. I’m pleased that the Administration has heard Congress’s message that only strong, enforceable rules will ensure that SPS measures are transparent, science-based, and are not unduly restrictive. I am particularly concerned by European restrictions on the use of generic food names, which the EU improperly designates as geographical indications. This threatens the U.S. dairy industry and cannot be tolerated. The TPP and U.S.-EU trade negotiations are good opportunities to reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers. To gain support in Congress, these agreements must result in complete market access.
Fourth, to strengthen USTR’s position in trade negotiations, we must pass Trade Promotion Authority without delay. The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act introduced earlier this year would establish clear direction to open agriculture markets and address unwarranted SPS measures and other trade barriers. If the Administration finishes these negotiations before TPA is granted, it will not get the best deal for our farmers or other exporters. Therefore, I call on the Administration to focus on passing TPA in Congress before completing TPP.