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Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk on U.S. Trade Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Ambassador Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative

U.S. Trade Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Washington, DC
November 30, 2011

*As Prepared for Delivery*

“Thank you, Tom. It’s always a pleasure to be here. I also want to recognize my distinguished predecessors: Ambassador Carla Hills, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, and Ambassador Susan Schwab. I am privileged to build on the work that you all have done at USTR. I appreciate the important points Tom just made about continuing to pursue a big and bold U.S. trade agenda, and I agree we have to seize every opportunity to create American jobs and put more people back to work.

“Part of the President’s plan to build an economy that creates the well–paying jobs of the future is for Americans to make, grow, and provide things the rest of the world buys. That’s why the President created the National Export Initiative to focus the Administration’s trade efforts on doubling exports by the end of 2014, with the goal of supporting up to two million additional U.S. jobs. Right now we are on pace to meet that goal, which is even more encouraging when you consider that the recently approved trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama haven’t kicked in yet. I’ll say more about them in a moment, but first I’d like to share some numbers that show just how robust our export growth has been over the past year.

“The latest economic data through September 2011 shows that over the last 12 months overall U.S. goods and services exports totaled $2.1 trillion, which represents a 30.3 percent increase over 2009. In fact, September’s exports of goods and services set a record at $180.4 billion, marking the fourth consecutive month of expanding export growth. Moreover, these gains are reflected across all sectors: services exports are up 17.1 percent; manufacturing exports are up 30.4 percent; and agricultural exports are up 39.5 percent.

“This morning, I’d like to highlight five examples of how we plan to continue pursuing trade that supports increased U.S. exports and jobs: 1) implementing the Korea, Colombia, and Panama trade agreements;2) negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership; 3) enforcing U.S. trade agreements and international trade rules; 4) maximizing export opportunities in every market, and 5) and providing leadership at the WTO to combat protectionism and strengthen the rules-based global trading system.

“First, we welcomed the Korean National Assembly’s approval of the KORUS FTA last week, because we are eager to implement our trade agreement with Korea, as well as the agreements with Colombia and Panama. All three agreements will boost U.S. exports and collectively they will support tens of thousands of jobs for Americans here at home. That’s why we’re working closely with each country to ensure requirements are met and agreements are implemented as quickly as possible.

“We’re also doing everything we can to sustain broad-based support and bolster the U.S. trade agenda moving forward. Because there is no doubt that bringing additional stakeholders to the table on trade helped us build a stronger coalition in support of the Korea, Colombia, and Panama agreements. The Obama Administration continues to believe we are all better off with more stakeholders inside the tent, actively supporting trade that boosts U.S. exports and American jobs. We’re committed to a practical, principled, and balanced approach that builds wide support for trade agreements that truly open markets and make sense for the American people as both producers and consumers.

“Speaking of trade agreements that make sense, the second item I want to discuss is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This bold initiative remains a top priority of the Obama Administration, because we think TPP has the potential to be a real game-changer in terms of trade and jobs. Let’s start with the fact that TPP is going to enhance U.S. economic engagement with the dynamic Asia-Pacific region, which is home to some of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets. Add to that all nine like-minded TPP partners are committed to aiming high, and we think TPP will be a deeply ambitious, groundbreaking trade arrangement, with binding commitments to market access across all sectors. American entrepreneurs, small business owners, workers, and families all stand to gain from high standards in TPP, which we believe will yield significant benefits in the form of more export-supported jobs and economic growth in the United States and other TPP partners.

“TPP is also about building the best trade policy for the future. For example, TPP partners are taking on the latest challenges that our companies and workers are facing in the 21st century, many of which have never before been addressed in a trade agreement. To anticipate and address these emerging concerns, TPP partners are seeking new disciplines on cross-cutting issues like regulatory coherence, small- and medium-sized businesses, and supply chains, competitiveness and business facilitation. We are also looking at how to address new trade-related issues, such as wildlife conservation, digital technology, and state-owned enterprises.

“Earlier this month in Honolulu, we were pleased to announce that we have achieved the broad outlines of an agreement. Moving forward, we have instructed our negotiating teams to work to conclude the agreement by the end of next year. Also in Honolulu, we welcomed expressions of interest in joining the TPP from Japan, Canada, and Mexico. At the same time, we conveyed that potential new entrants must be prepared to address a range of U.S. priorities and issues, and meet the high standards sought by all TPP partners.

“The Administration looks forward to working with Congress, stakeholders, and TPP partners to review the important challenges and opportunities involved with accepting new members. And as we continue to coordinate closely with Congress on TPP, we will discuss additional negotiating authority that may be necessary at the appropriate time.

“Since I’ve just described current and future trade agreements, I want to take a few minutes now to focus on the flip side of the coin – trade enforcement. We must enforce our trade agreements – strictly and consistently – to make sure that American businesses and workers get all the job-building benefits U.S. negotiators fight for at the bargaining table. That’s why from day one the Obama Administration has been committed to enforcing U.S. trade rights and holding all of our trading partners accountable for their obligations to play by the rules. Over the past three years, this Administration has launched and led unprecedented trade enforcement efforts in support of American jobs. For example, we have brought more cases to the WTO dispute settlement body than any other member during that time.

“But let me be clear – we do not arbitrarily seek disagreements; nor is it our desire to be disagreeable. We’re taking these enforcement actions because: 1) the international trading system works best when everyone is playing by the rules; and 2) we have a responsibility to make sure the playing field is level for American producers and workers competing in the global economy.

“Moving forward, we will continue to deploy creative and effective enforcement strategies that hold our trading partners accountable for their commitments. Our goal is to ensure American producers are able to compete and win in world markets where intellectual property is protected, where agricultural and industrial standards are based on science, and where transparent rules and regulations are applied without discrimination. Accordingly, our enforcement priorities will be appropriately targeted to address the most commercially-significant challenges facing U.S. workers and businesses, as well as emerging issues that have important implications for the future of the rules-based global trading system.

“For example, this week is the deadline for the EU to comply with the WTO ruling in the Airbus subsidies case. We are determined to ensure this legal victory for the United States – the largest in the history of the WTO – translates into a mutually-agreeable solution that removes WTO-inconsistent subsidies from the global aerospace sector. Also, as China approaches the tenth anniversary of its accession to the WTO, we are vigilantly addressing trade-distorting practices such as China’s unfair subsidies in the wind sector, which we worked hard to remove successfully. And as we continue to seek a mutually-beneficial relationship with China based on transparency and the rule of law, we will advance the rights of U.S. manufacturers, service providers, agricultural producers, and workers through dialogue when possible, and through litigation when necessary.

“While we vigilantly enforce rules and assert U.S. trade rights daily, we are also constantly looking for ways to enhance and expand each of our trade relationships. Because all of our trade relationships offer opportunities to increase export-supported American jobs. And we’re not going to leave any jobs on the table.

“We continue to strengthen ties with top trading partners such as Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, and more broadly across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. On Monday, President Obama, European Commission President Barroso, and European Council President Von Rompuy launched a High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth that will identify and assess options for strengthening the U.S.-EU economic relationship, including ways we can generate more transatlantic trade and investment that supports better jobs for our peoples. This new working group, which I will co-chair along with EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, is a logical step forward in our strong trade relationship. It builds on the success we have had working together through the Transatlantic Economic Council to develop more trade-friendly measures, such as joint principles for ICT services and for good regulatory practices, just to name a few.

“In North America, our tariffs with Canada and Mexico have been eliminated, so we are working to reduce unnecessary regulatory differences among our countries. For example, earlier this year we reached a mutual recognition agreement with Mexico to enhance cross-border trade in telecommunications products, so that companies do not have to make different products for different markets.

“Efforts like these complement President Obama’s National Export Initiative focus on helping small- and medium-sized businesses, because addressing these types of issues can reduce trade barriers that make it difficult for many small businesses to export right now. As you know, nearly two-thirds of new American jobs are created by small businesses, but only about 1 percent of all U.S. small businesses are currently exporting. So if we could get just one more out of every one hundred small U.S. businesses selling to customers beyond our borders, then we would likely grow many more jobs here at home.

“Large and growing markets like China, India, and Brazil also present U.S. exporters with significant opportunities. To be sure, each market presents different barriers to trade and investment. But emerging economies offer tremendous potential to support additional American jobs through trade that provides American producers with access to billions of international customers. With China, we will carefully monitor implementation of commitments China made at this year’s Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) to enforce intellectual property rights and protections more effectively; to ensure a level playing field for our companies in emerging industries like new energy vehicles; and to remove certain “indigenous innovation” requirements.

“Similarly, with Brazil and India, we’ll be utilizing all available resources to identify, address, and remove barriers to trade and investment between the United States and these growing markets.

As we work to seize opportunities in the largest and fastest-growing world markets, we are also working to enhance our trade relationships with developing countries. We will continue to strengthen export markets and enhance economic development in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

“Now that I’ve given you a quick overview of our efforts to leverage U.S. trade relationships all around the world, I’d like to wrap up by highlighting how the United States is providing crucial international leadership on trade. Specifically, we are leading multilateral efforts at the World Trade Organization to strengthen the rules-based trading system and keep global trade flowing and growing. In Geneva, we have been consistently emphasizing three key points: 1) rules must be followed consistently and transparently; 2) protectionism must be avoided actively; and 3) it’s time to recognize that emerging economic power carries commensurate responsibilities to build a strong multilateral trading system for the 21st century. The implications of this third point are clear in the Doha Round, where the current model isn’t working and the United States is leading conversations about how to turn the page toward fresh, credible approaches to the negotiations.

“But at the same time, everyone should remember that there’s more to the WTO than just Doha negotiations. The rules-based WTO system has effectively staved off protectionism and enforced global trade rules. And we significantly benefit from the existing WTO Agreements and the day-to-day work of the standing Committees in resolving trade issues.

“To further strengthen the WTO, we are also assisting efforts to expand the community of countries participating in the rules-based global trading system. We are pleased Russia is on track to become a WTO member, because Russia’s accession will spur trade and support significant job growth in both countries as a result of increased access to Russia’s market and requirements for Russia to comply with the same rules that apply to us and other WTO members. Of course, to ensure that American firms and American exporters will enjoy the same benefits of Russia’s WTO membership as their international competitors, we look forward to working with Congress to secure legislation ending application of the Jackson-Vanik amendment and granting permanent normal trade relations status to Russia as soon as possible.

“Let me conclude with one final thought about the future: I think it’s always important to remember that for millions of American families struggling to make ends meet, the future is really right now. So while today may mark the end of two significant months in trade history, this Administration is already writing another chapter of U.S. trade policy. Because we know the American people are counting on us to keep delivering trade opportunities that boost U.S. exports and support American jobs. That’s what led President Obama to focus on selling more products

Made-in-America to foreign customers in the first place, and it will continue to drive our trade agenda moving forward.

“I’ll leave you with President Obama’s own words. Speaking at APEC a few weeks ago, the President put it best when he said:

‘…whether it’s in the WTO, whether it’s in the TPP, whether it’s in forums like APEC, my message to all our trading partners, to other countries, is: ‘If you are playing by the rules, then America is ready to do business.’ And we will remain open; we will fight against protectionist measures. But we are also going to be pushing hard to make sure that you are not…gaming the system. And we want strong enforcement of these international norms and rules. We think that will be to everybody’s benefit over the long term.’

“America is ready to do business, and your support is critical to our shared success. Thank you.”