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United States Trade Representative Michael Froman Testimony on the 2014 Trade Agenda at the Senate Finance Committee

Ambassador Michael Froman United States Trade Representative
Oral Testimony
Senate Committee on Finance
May 1, 2014

Chairman Wyden, Ranking Member Hatch, Members of the Senate Finance Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the President’s 2014 Trade Policy Agenda.

The core of the Obama Administration’s economic strategy is to create jobs, promote growth, and strengthen the middle class.  Through our trade policy, we are contributing to that strategy by opening markets for Made-in-America exports, leveling the playing for American workers and businesses by raising standards and fully enforcing our trade laws and our trade rights.  

We are unlocking opportunity for American workers, farmers and ranchers; manufacturers and service providers; entrepreneurs and innovators.  And we are doing so in a way that promotes both our interests and our values.

The Obama Administration has made great strides in promoting U.S. exports and creating jobs here at home.  We increased exports to a record high of $2.3 trillion in 2013, contributing to a third of our total economic growth.  11.3 million Americans now owe their jobs to exports.  1.6 million of those jobs have been created in the last four years, and those jobs pay 13-18 percent more on average than non-export related jobs.

Building on this success, the Administration is pursuing the most ambitious trade agenda in decades with the negotiation of high-standard trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific region and with the European Union.  Together these negotiations would allow us to access economies representing nearly two-thirds of global GDP.

Last week, during the President’s visit to Japan, the United States and Japan crossed an important threshold in our bilateral market access discussions.  In doing so, we have identified a path forward on agriculture and autos, two of the most challenging areas of our negotiations with Japan.  Although work remains to close the gaps, this milestone achievement – spurred by the President’s direct engagement – will provide significant momentum to the overall TPP negotiations.  

Through these negotiations, we are working to ensure that TPP will open markets for U.S. goods and services, include strong and enforceable labor and environmental commitments, promote strong IP protection and enforcement, and include groundbreaking rules on issues like state-owned enterprises and the digital economy.

Looking across the Atlantic, we will continue this year to make significant, steady progress toward a T-TIP agreement with the European Union.  Later this month, we will host the fifth round of negotiations.

Building on our success at the WTO, in March, we notified Congress on our intent to enter into negotiations on an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) with countries representing nearly 90 percent of this $1.4 trillion market.  

We will also move to conclude negotiations on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and the expansion of the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

We are also working to conclude a comprehensive review of the African Growth and Opportunities Act, which expires next year.  We look forward to working closely with you to renew and revitalize the program.

Through our trade policy, we seek to promote sectors that are vital to the U.S. economy.  In 2013, our farmers and ranchers exported more than $148 billion in food and agricultural goods exports.  In 2013, we exported nearly $1.4 trillion in manufactured goods and nearly $700 billion in services.  This year, the Administration aims to help our farmers and ranchers, manufacturing workers and service providers build on this record.  We want to make it here, grow it here, and sell it around the world.

The United States is an innovation economy, and the Obama Administration is committed to protecting intellectual property (IP) so that our inventors and creators earn the fruits of their labor.  Just yesterday, we released our 25th annual Special 301 report, a tool through which we identify and resolve intellectual property concerns around the world.  30 million American jobs rely on IP, and we will continue to use our trade agenda in 2014 to defend the IP rights of our creators and innovators, while also ensuring access to affordable medicines and a free and open internet. 

The Obama Administration has also placed an unprecedented emphasis on trade enforcement.  Since 2009, the Administration has filed seventeen WTO complaints, doubling the rate of cases filed against China.  In fact, a little over a month ago, the United States scored an important victory on fair access to rare earth minerals that are essential for maintaining U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, including in the area of clean energy technology.

Through our ongoing enforcement agenda, we are leveling the playing field and keeping markets open for our agricultural producers, manufacturers, and service providers.

As we pursue this agenda, we are committed to consulting with Congress and seeking input from stakeholders, advisors, and the public.  

We have held over 1,250 meetings with Congress about TPP alone – and that does not include consultations on the rest of our trade agenda.  Our Congressional partners preview our proposals and give us critical feedback every step of the way.  Any member of Congress can review the negotiating text and receive detailed briefings by our negotiators.  

We are taking steps to further diversify our advisory committees, including opening up our advisory committees for broader representation and launching a new Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee (PITAC), which provides stakeholders focused on consumer, public health and other public interest issues additional opportunities to inform our trade policy.

Finally, let me say a word about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).  The last TPA legislation was passed over a decade ago.  Much has changed since that time, from the May 10, 2007 bipartisan agreement on labor, environment, innovation and access to medicines to the rise of the digital economy and the increasing role of state-owned enterprises in the global economy.  We believe these issues should be reflected in a new TPA bill.  We look forward to working with this Committee and Congress as a whole to secure trade promotion authority with broad bipartisan support.  

We also look forward to renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which helps provide American workers with the skills to compete in the 21st century.  We also urge Congress to expeditiously renew authorization of the GSP program.

Our trade agenda will create growth, support well-paying American jobs, and protect and strengthen our middle class.  At their core, our trade agreements include strong, enforceable rules that promote U.S. values and interests.  

We look forward to continuing our close, bipartisan cooperation with Congress to accomplish our shared goals and ensure that our trade policy creates opportunities for all Americans.

Thank you again for the opportunity to testify today.  I look forward to answering any questions you may have.