By Phillip Kurata,
IIP Staff Writer,
March 19, 2013
The Obama administration is taking “bold steps” to expand U.S. trade after U.S. exports scored record high
“Last year, U.S. exports overcame slackening global demand and a devastating drought to reach record highs,” acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said before the Senate Finance Committee March 19. “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.”
Marantis said the administration is counting on strong support from both parties in Congress to hold its trading partners “accountable for their commitments.”
“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,” he said. He added that since President Obama took office in 2009, manufacturing exports are up 47 percent, agricultural exports up 44 percent and service exports up 24 percent. Increased U.S. exports have supported 1.3 million additional U.S. jobs during that time frame, he added.
The acting trade representative said the administration looks forward to working with Congress to renew the trade promotion authority that streamlines the negotiating process. The authority authorizes the president to negotiate trade agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster. The previous authority expired in 2007.
Marantis said the administration is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a “next-generation, high-standard trade agreement in the world’s fastest-growing region.” Eleven countries bordering the Pacific Ocean are engaged in the talks, which aim for an agreement on comprehensive market access for goods, services, trade and investment. The U.S. negotiators are pressing for a completion of the negotiations by the end of 2014.
Marantis said the United States is preparing to start trade negotiations with the European Union to strengthen what already is the world’s largest trading relationship. In addition, the United States is working at the World Trade Organization and other venues to liberalize trade, he said.
The ranking senators from both parties on the Senate Finance Committee praised free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that Congress passed in 2012 and expressed support for trade expansion in 2013.
“We must now be aggressive, seize these opportunities,” said the Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, a Democrat. “An aggressive trade agenda is key to boosting our nation’s economy and creating good-paying jobs … all across America.”
“International trade is critical to our economy. Trade supports more than 38 million jobs in the United States,” said Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican. “We need an aggressive trade policy and the tools to help put that policy in place.”
He said he hopes the current session of Congress can enact trade legislation on a scale similar to that of the previous session, which resulted in seven trade bills and legislation to grant permanent normal trade relations with Russia while holding Russia accountable for its actions.