WASHINGTON Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the following opening statement during a hearing on expanding American trade with accountability and transparency.
“Well, first, I want to thank our witnesses: Secretary Lew, Secretary Pritzker, and Secretary Vilsack. I’m interested to hear your testimony. But before we start, I want to say a few words about why today’s topic is so important. Why do we need to establish trade promotion authority? What’s the point of all this? Well, for me, it all comes down to two things: promoting American trade and restoring American leadership.
“Right now, we’re negotiating the biggest trade deal in history, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It alone will cover 40 percent of the world economyour country and 11 others, ranging from Japan and Malaysia to Canada. Now, I’ve talked to a lot of people from these countrieselected officials, businessmen, activists. And the question on everybody’s minds is, ‘Can the United States close the deal?’
“Can we drive a hard bargain? Will we keep our word? Do we have staying power? Or should the world look elsewhere for leadership? That’s why we need to establish trade promotion authority. TPA will send a signal to the world: The United States will not retreat; we will stay engaged.
“Once we present a united front, our credibility will get a major boost. Our trading partners will know we’re trustworthy. Our rivals will know we’re serious. And the American people will know this trade agreement is a fair deal for thembecause they’ll have the information they need to decide for themselves.
“A lot of people have said the trade negotiations have been too secretive. And I agree. That’s why TPA will make the negotiations more transparent and more accountable. Under TPA, any member of Congress will be able to read the negotiating text. In fact, TPA will require the administration to post the full text of the agreement at least 60 days before signing the deal, so the American people can read it themselves.
“And most important, TPA makes clear that Congress gets the final say. If the administration fails to meet its obligations, Congress can hit the breaks, cancel the vote, and stop the agreement.
“But we need to move, because if you’re not moving forward in trade negotiations, you’re falling behind. In the first ten years of this century, the countries of East Asia negotiated 48 trade agreements. The U.S., on the other hand, negotiated just two in that region. As a result, our share of East Asia’s imports fell by 42 percent. Every one of our top competitors did betterevery one.
“And while we’re sitting on the sidelines, China is negotiating agreements all over the world. They’re writing rules that give kickbacks to government-owned firms and stack the deck against American job creators. So it all comes down to this question: Is China going to write the rules of the global economy, or are we?
“The fact is, we’re the only country that can do this. We’re the only country that can tear down barriers to American exports and win a fair deal for the American worker. We’re the only country that can stand up for free enterprise and the rule of law. We know these are serious times. The stakes are high. They call out for leadership. And I want to pass this bill because I want America to answer that call.”