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Testimony of Ambassador Ron Kirk Before the Senate Finance Committee

Ambassador Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative

Testimony Before the Senate Finance Committee
Washington, DC
March 7, 2012

*As Prepared for Delivery*

“Chairman Baucus, Ranking Member Hatch, members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify.

“About twelve months ago, I shared with you President Obama’s commitment to advance trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance, and to extend trade preference programs. Back then, some questioned whether our efforts we were taking too long or seeking too much. But with your help, all of this and more was accomplished last year.

“Together, we did the hard work necessary to pass these measures on one historic day. And we built a new bipartisan template for trade policy that opens markets and levels the playing field for American businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers.

“This year, with your help, we will advance another ambitious trade agenda. I’d like to highlight some of the key initiatives of the President’s Trade Policy Agenda for 2012.

“First, I’m proud to report that the U.S.-Korea trade agreement will come into force on March 15. At the same time, we are working with the governments of Colombia and Panama to fulfill their commitments so that those agreements can take effect as soon as possible.

“We’re also moving full speed ahead in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Building on the broad outlines announced last November, we are seeking to conclude a landmark TPP agreement this year. It will address cross-cutting issues such as promoting regulatory coherence among our countries, participation of more small businesses in Asia-Pacific trade, and regional supply chains that promote U.S. jobs.

“As we consider the entry of additional countries, we will continue to coordinate closely with you to ensure that new participants meet TPP’s high standards and address issues of concern.

“And as we move toward negotiating outcomes, the Administration will explore issues regarding additional trade promotion authority necessary to approve the TPP and future trade agreements.

“This year, we are getting even tougher on trade enforcement, which has been a priority for President Obama from day one. The new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) will challenge even more aggressively the kinds of unfair trade practices we fight fiercely everyday – from China’s improper restrictions on industrial raw materials, to improper subsidies by the EU and other partners.

“As we consider enforcement, I want to thank this committee for working together to defend the rights of U.S. workers and businesses who face unfairly subsidized imports from countries like China. You stood up for them by working to pass the GPX bill this week.

“This year, we are ready to seize the benefits and enforcement tools available to the United States as Russia joins the WTO.

“To do so, we must work together to terminate Russia’s Jackson-Vanik status as soon as possible. Only then can American firms enjoy the same benefits of Russia’s WTO membership as our international competitors.

“President Obama’s pursuit of enhanced trade to support American jobs extends across all geographic regions and all major economic sectors. At his direction, we are engaging with the Europe to deepen our transatlantic trade relationship. We are eager to work with Congress to make immediate progress with sub-Saharan Africa and CAFTA countries on issues like third-country fabric and textile and apparel rules of origin. At the WTO, we continue to look for fresh, credible approaches to market-opening trade negotiations in the Doha Round and along with it – including plurilateral options such as services.

“Working together, we can stay on track to double U.S. exports and support more jobs for more Americans.

“Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of these critical issues and your continued support of a forward-leaning job-creating trade agenda.

“Thank you.”