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Testimony of Ambassador Ron Kirk Before the Senate Finance Committee

Testimony of Ambassador Ron Kirk

March 3, 2010
Senate Finance Committee
Hearing on "The President's Trade Agenda"
Washington, D.C.

*As Prepared for Delivery*

"Chairman Baucus, Ranking Member Grassley, members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss the President's 2010 Trade Agenda.

"In 2009, President Obama's economic strategy halted the slide into economic crisis. In 2010, this Administration is focused on renewing the American economy by laying a sustainable foundation for American prosperity - one that creates opportunities for job growth at home, and for Americans to compete and succeed around the globe. A strong trade policy leads to good jobs, fair prices, and increased consumer choices.

"This year's Trade Policy Agenda outlines this Administration's commitment to the rules-based trading system, our dedication to enforcing America's rights, and our plan to advance U.S. economic interests by negotiating new market-opening agreements and resolving issues with pending free trade agreements. Taken together, these elements will stimulate export-driven growth and help the United States meet the President's goal to double U.S. exports in five years - an increase that could support two million additional American jobs.

"Over the past year, we have listened to the American people and the Congress, hearing your calls for more vigorous enforcement of America's rights under the international trading system.

"We've been asked to break down barriers to agriculture exports. We did so by reaching agreement with the European Union to expand access for American beef after more than two decades of dispute and by challenging in the WTO the European Union's unfounded ban on U.S. poultry exports.

"We've been asked to level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers in the global marketplace. We did so by reaching agreement with China to eliminate harmful export subsidies and by winning new market access for American manufactured goods, such as auto parts and wind turbines. We are also challenging China in the WTO over its export restraints on raw materials that create competitive disadvantages for our steel, aluminum and chemical industries.

"We've been asked to protect American innovation. We did so by winning a WTO decision that found China was not meeting its intellectual property protection and enforcement obligations. We also moved forward with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement to step up the fight against global counterfeiting and piracy.

"We've been asked to do more for small- and medium-sized enterprises. We responded by launching a small- and medium-sized business initiative, designating a senior USTR official to serve as the point person, and prioritizing small- and medium-sized businesses in trade negotiations.

"We've been asked to seize major opportunities for enhanced growth, job creation, and innovation by seeking new and expanded markets for our exports. Many of you - especially the Chairman and Ranking Member - urged us to step up our engagement in the Asia-Pacific. In response, USTR is beginning negotiations toward a new Trans-Pacific Partnership that will expand U.S. export opportunities with the fastest-growing economies in the world under a high-standard, 21st century agreement.

"We've been asked about pending trade agreements. Approval of these FTAs is a priority. As the President said last week, we are working to resolve the outstanding issues so that we can move forward on trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

"Globally, USTR aims to expand rules-based trade opportunities for American businesses and workers, and for some of the world's poorest nations by achieving an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Round of trade negotiations - one that will support job creation at home and further our commitment to help developing nations.

"This Administration is also working with Congress and other stakeholders to implement and improve trade preference programs that help developing nations to gain a foothold in the international marketplace.

"And we will work hard to ensure that this Administration's trade policies reflect American values, promote worker rights and transparency, and move the United States closer to achieving sustainable energy and environmental goals.

"Creating and implementing the policies outlined in the President's Trade Agenda requires an ongoing conversation with Congress and the American people. I look forward to our dialogue today and to many future discussions. By working together, we can use common sense and find common ground on trade in order to create jobs and new opportunities for American workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers. Thank you."