Crafting a Pro-Jobs Trade Agenda for 2012 and Beyond
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The annual House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the U.S. trade agenda will be held tomorrow, with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk as the chief witness. As Chairman Dave Camp indicated in announcing the hearing, “Opening new markets for U.S. businesses, workers, and farmers and strong enforcement of U.S. rights are essential to driving economic growth and job creation here in the United States… We are now at an important juncture … to look ahead for future trade and investment opportunities … to maximize American competitiveness and ensure that we do not fall behind.”
The U.S. Chamber and its members couldn’t agree more. With last October’s bipartisan approval of the trade accords with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, “the United States has returned to the trade negotiating table,” as Chairman Camp said. We need to seize the day and craft a bold new agenda to boost trade and create jobs.
The Chamber’s statement for the record identifies our top trade priorities before the Congress this year: Approval of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for Russia and reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
It also underscores a number of longer-term goals:
- Renew the president’s authority to negotiate trade agreements — Trade Promotion Authority;
- Clinch a commercially strong Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to create 21st century rules of the road among the United States and eight other Asia-Pacific nations;
- Pursue a Transatlantic Economic and Trade Pact, because even though the U.S. and EU economies are already very open to trade, even relatively small barriers impose steep costs in the context of the world’s largest economic relationship;
- Negotiate an agreement to further liberalize trade in services among a “coalition of the willing” at the WTO;
- Explore the feasibility of bilateral trade agreements with Brazil, Egypt, India, and Indonesia, recognizing that in each instance a number of impediments would have to be removed first; and
- Recognize that international investment is a two-way street, with benefits flowing from both foreign investment in the United States and U.S. investment abroad (which in turn means the United States should negotiate more bilateral investment treaties).
The United States cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while others design a new architecture for the world economy and world trade. That’s why the United States needs a laser-like focus on opening foreign markets. The U.S. Chamber looks forward to working with the administration and Congress to advance a bold new trade agenda to generate growth, opportunity, and jobs.