June 06,2013

Press Contact:

Sean Neary/Meaghan Smith

Baucus Statement on Mike Froman's Nomination to be U.S. Trade Representative

William Shakespeare once said, “Nimble thought can jump both sea and land.” 

The Office of the United States Trade Representative brings both nimble thought and nimble action to bear on the complex world of trade negotiations and enforcement.  And this nimbleness allows them to address the challenges of trade policy across sea and land. 

USTR is lean and effective.  With fewer than 250 employees, it punches beyond its weight to break down foreign barriers to U.S. goods, services and intellectual property.  And it negotiates the rules of trade that expand commerce, promote growth and create jobs.

USTR requires leadership that is equally nimble – leadership that can harness USTR’s strengths and the strengths of the U.S. government as a whole.  It needs a leader willing to put in the miles to meet with foreign counterparts and drive a hard bargain.  A leader willing to partner with us here in Congress to develop trade policies that work.  A leader willing to put in the hours to understand the challenges facing U.S. businesses, farmers, and ranchers – ranchers like Jim Peterson who are fighting to sell more U.S. beef around the world and are facing unscientific barriers in places like China. 

I am pleased that we have such a leader before us today.  Mike Froman is the right person for this job.  For the past four years, he has demonstrated a mastery of trade policy development and implementation. 

He understands the small details and he sees the big picture.  He has closed out trade agreements, guided global economic policy and promoted initiatives that have boosted America’s exports by more than 40 percent.  And he has skillfully represented the United States at global forums like the G8 and the G20.  He is more than capable of doing the job at hand.  We should confirm his nomination, and we should do so quickly.

President Obama has outlined an ambitious trade agenda, one that requires a strong trade representative like Mr. Froman who can hit the ground running.  The time is ripe.  The United States has an opportunity to share in the rapid growth of the Pacific region and unlock further economic gains from our already deep ties with Europe.

USTR seeks to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations by the end of the year.  It will soon be ramping up free trade agreement negotiations with the European Union, and it is hard at work in Geneva on a multilateral services agreement, expanding opportunities for U.S. information technology products and reducing border delays around the world.  

These trade policies will make a difference here at home.  As a group, the TPP countries are the largest international market for U.S. goods and services.  Last year, U.S. exports to current TPP countries totaled nearly $620 billion, representing 40 percent of total U.S. goods exports. 

And breaking down trade barriers in TPP countries will make a real difference.  Japan relaxed its beef restrictions earlier this year, and our beef sales are almost 50 percent higher.  Japan’s average agricultural tariffs are more than 20 percent, while ours are only five.  When those tariffs come down, our sales will go up.

And the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will also stimulate economic growth and job creation.  The European Union purchased close to $460 billion in U.S. goods and services last year, supporting 2.4 million American jobs.  A comprehensive agreement that tackles long-standing regulatory and agricultural barriers could add even more jobs here at home.

My home state of Montana shows how critical an ambitious trade agenda is to good-paying jobs.   Montana’s manufacturers, farmers and ranchers rely upon open markets to create and maintain jobs.  In fact, one in six manufacturing jobs in Montana comes from exports.  In the last decade, Montana’s goods exports to FTA partners have increased by 248 percent.  Last year Montana’s wheat growers exported 65 percent of their crop.

Because of the tireless efforts of U.S. trade negotiators, ranchers from Clyde Park can now export American beef to Korea, and farmers from Churchill can export American seed potatoes to Congo.  We must fulfill the promise of our ambitious trade agenda.  Confirming Mike Froman quickly must be the first step, but we’re not done there.  The next step must be to pass Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance. 

With so many trade initiatives moving to completion and getting off the ground, we need TPA now to guide and support USTR.  And we need TAA to ensure that our workforce remains ready to compete with anyone, anywhere in the world.

I am pleased that the Administration supports TPA and worker assistance.  Mr. Froman, I look forward to working with you to renew TPA and TAA in the next few months, so that we can lay the groundwork for a successful trade agenda.  I will continue my efforts to introduce a bipartisan TPA bill this month.

Finally, I’d like to emphasize that the USTR must continue to harness the resources and energy of the entire U.S. government for our trade agenda to be successful.  It must continue to be headquartered at the White House, and the U.S. government must continue to pull together behind USTR’s leadership.

The President’s ambitious trade agenda will require nimble thought and nimble action.  And I am confident that with Mike Froman at the helm, USTR will meet the ambition that the President has set.  Mr. Froman, Members of this Committee will ask you tough questions today.  That is our right and responsibility. 

Mr. Froman, over the past several years, you have shown that you are willing to go the extra mile, over land and sea, to get the best deal for U.S. farmers, ranchers, businesses and workers.  I believe you will serve ably as the next U.S. Trade Representative.  I look forward to our discussion today.