March 19,2013

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Baucus Outlines Job-Creating Trade Agenda

Boosting U.S. Agriculture Exports to Europe and Asia is Among Finance Chairman’s Priorities

WASHINGTONIn a Senate Finance Committee hearing today, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) laid out an aggressive trade agenda for 2013 aimed at boosting U.S. exports, creating American jobs and ensuring the nation’s workforce is prepared to compete in an increasingly intertwined global economy.  Senator Baucus identified several priorities, including: renewing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA); ensuring the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and U.S.-EU trade and investment agreement generate growth and jobs in Montana and across the United States; and addressing Chinese government policies that threaten U.S. innovation and jobs.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership will strengthen our ties with some of Asia’s most vibrant economies and open markets with great potential to create jobs here at home.  And a trade agreement with the EU will generate economic growth and jobs in both the United States and Europe,” Senator Baucus said.  “But to tap into these great opportunities we first need to overcome some serious challenges, including access for U.S. agricultural exports, such as beef and pork.  Unscientific and unfair barriers to U.S. agriculture products put jobs in Montana and across the U.S. at risk. I will not support any trade agreement that puts America’s ranchers and farmers at a disadvantage.” 

Senator Baucus said the TPP agreement is an opportunity for the U.S. to create jobs at home by increasing trade with fast-growing Asian economies.  He added that if Japan does join the TPP negotiations, he would hope to build on the recent progress made when it opened its market to more U.S. beef exports earlier this year.  Senator Baucus met with Japanese leaders in Tokyo last year to discuss the TPP, beef exports and other opportunities for U.S. businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers.

Senator Baucus also recognized the significant economic benefits that would be generated by a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union, our largest trading partner.  He insisted, however, that the agreement must eliminate the unscientific barriers that keep U.S. agricultural products from Montana and other states out of the European market – an issue he pushed when he met with European leaders last fall.  European countries maintain non-scientific bans on U.S. beef and pork containing a widely used feed ingredient called ractopamine, despite assurances from food safety organizations charged with developing international safety standards that it is safe to use. 

Senator Baucus discussed the significant role TAA, a critical job-training program that helps American workers be more competitive and helps U.S. companies seize opportunities in international markets, plays in the country’s trade agenda.  Since 2009, TAA has helped 800 workers at nearly 40 companies in Montana alone find the support and skills they need to land reliable jobs.  With the ambitious trade agenda ahead, Senator Baucus also discussed the need to update and renew TPA and will work with the administration to do so.

“Given the ambitious agenda we’ve planned to boost our economy and create jobs, the need for Trade Promotion Authority is clear.  Trade Adjustment Assistance is a common-sense investment in our workforce, and it’s at the very center of our trade plan,” Senator Baucus said.  “Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance are two sides of the same coin – making trade work.  We need to renew and extend both of them this year.”

Senator Baucus said the U.S. must also continue addressing challenges in its trade relationship with China in order to make it beneficial for both countries.  China’s unfair trade practices include currency manipulation, preferences for local companies, technology transfer requirements and poor protection and enforcement of U.S. intellectual property rights, he said.  A 2011 International Trade Commission report Senator Baucus requested found that China’s IP infringement costs the U.S. economy nearly $50 billion each year and has reduced U.S. payrolls by more than two million jobs. 

Senator Baucus also noted his support for other initiatives that are underway, including an information technology trade agreement and an international services trade agreement.  He is also working on comprehensive legislation reauthorizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.