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Testimony by Acting USTR Marantis Before Senate Finance Committee
March 20, 2013

Testimony by Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis
Before the Senate Finance Committee on The President’s Trade Agenda 

Washington, D.C.
March 19, 2013

*As Prepared For Delivery*

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

“We are now three years into President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI). Since 2009, increased U.S. exports have supported 1.3 million additional American jobs. Last year, U.S. exports overcame slackening global demand and a devastating drought to reach record highs: since 2009, manufacturing exports were up 47 percent; agricultural exports were up 44 percent; and services exports were up 24 percent.

“President Obama’s trade agenda for 2013 calls for continued progress and bold steps. It will support greater economic growth and jobs for more Americans.  And bipartisan cooperation between Congress and the Administration will remain critical to its success. Together, we can secure job-supporting opportunities for U.S. farmers, ranchers, businesses, workers, manufacturers, and service providers.  So in 2013, the Administration will continue to consult closely with you on U.S. trade negotiating objectives and on holding our trading partners accountable for their commitments.

“USTR’s current work builds on many efforts that became successful with your guidance and help. We are intensifying Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to secure a next-generation, high-standard trade agreement in the world’s fastest growing region. As President Obama announced in his State of the Union address, we are preparing to begin negotiations to further strengthen the world’s largest trade relationship through a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union.   In Geneva, we will soon begin negotiations regarding global trade in services, a sector where U.S. providers are highly competitive.   At the World Trade Organization (WTO), we are advancing promising pathways for trade liberalization.  These include trade facilitation and expansion of the Information Technology Agreement.

“And, in support of our market-opening efforts, we look forward to beginning work with you on Trade Promotion Authority.  This year, we will seek to improve the effectiveness of U.S. trade preference programs and to ensure that U.S. businesses and workers benefit fully from the commitments of new WTO partners. And we will address the expiration of Trade Adjustment Assistance this year, keeping our own commitment to Americans in trade-impacted industries, and connecting them and other displaced workers with employment services.

“Your support for President Obama’s focus on trade enforcement is already ensuring that more Americans reap all the benefits of U.S. trade agreements at the WTO and around the world. In conjunction with USTR’s Office of General Counsel, the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) will continue to play a critical role in trade enforcement efforts.  Since its inception, ITEC has already helped to advance multiple enforcement actions and investigations.

“As we continue our market-opening and enforcement efforts, USTR will uphold this Administration’s commitment to be responsive to American interests and concerns.  We will base trade policy on diverse American perspectives with the goal of supporting American jobs. In particular, we will continue to maintain open channels of communication and receive constructive public feedback on all trade negotiations.

“Working with you, this Administration intends to seek high-standard trade and investment opportunities around the world. We intend to enforce our trade agreements to preserve and support additional U.S. jobs. And we intend to reflect and uphold American values in trade policy.

“However, it is important to note that continued budget cuts and resource constraints could significantly compromise USTR’s capabilities. Already, we face the possibility that the sequester alone will hamper our ability to conduct trade negotiations and other market-opening efforts, as well as initiate new enforcement disputes.

“And in the continuing resolution that is currently moving through Congress, USTR’s budget would be cut by an additional $1 million – on top of the $2.6 million sequester. A further $1 million hit could undermine USTR’s ability to conduct multiple major trade negotiations simultaneously as well as severely compromise enforcement.

“I thank the Committee for your thoughtful consideration of critical trade issues and your continued support for an ambitious agenda. Working together, we can ensure that our trade policy continues to support jobs and opportunities for all Americans.”