Senators Menendez & Rubio Hold the Line on Rule of Law in the Americas
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Jul 31, 2012
Earlier today, I was honored to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere Subcommittee on opportunities and challenges for the U.S. business community in Latin America. Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member Marco Rubio (R-FL), and my fellow panelists—Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Rooney from the U.S. Department of State, Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Eric Farnsworth from the Council of the Americas—were gracious and informed in their advocacy on behalf of the U.S. business community.
I want to highlight six key factors for advancing the US private sector in this hemisphere from my testimony, which can be read here or watched here:
- The strategic importance of the Americas to the United States: The Western Hemisphere accounts for 44% of all U.S. goods exports, about $650 billion in 2011, and twelve of our twenty free trade partners are from this hemisphere.
- When the rule of law is present investment thrives, economies grow, jobs are created, and prosperity follows. Yet, where the rule of law is absent corruption thrives, informality reigns, investment dollars flee, and tax revenues plummet.
- While we very much welcomed the news that United States along with the other eight members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership invited Mexico and Canada to join the negotiations, the United States should champion an expanded Latin American presence in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- The time is ripe for the U.S. and Brazil to explore a Bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement that not only includes traditional market access; but also new areas of economic and commercial cooperation such as energy, infrastructure, and tri-lateral cooperation such as preference programs with less developed countries such as Haiti.
- The U.S. Chamber continues to strengthen bilateral relationships by working to resolve irritants to our trade relationships, for example working with Brazil on ethanol, orange juice, spirits, GSP, and cotton. The U.S. Chamber stands ready to do so with other governments including the Government of Argentina with respect to its market access priorities for lemons and beef, if Argentina engages in a constructive dialogue.
- We are at a pivot point in our relationships with the Western Hemisphere, because the economic forecasts are strong and the region is in a growth mode. There is still ample opportunity for the United States to lead, but if we do not it is certain that our partners will be looking elsewhere. Latin America is not sitting still.