Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless (202) 244-4515
Hatch Statement at Finance Hearing on President Obama’s 2015 Trade Agenda
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at a committee hearing on President Obama’s 2015 Trade Agenda:
The committee will come to order.
Good morning. It’s a pleasure to welcome everyone to today’s hearing on our nation’s trade agenda.
Thank you Ambassador Froman, for being here today. I have to say that the trade agenda is looking up since the last time you testified.
Things seem to be improving with our ongoing trade negotiations. For example, while significant gaps remain, the administration seems to be inching ever closer toward a conclusion of a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
Morale at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, after a long period of decline, is beginning to rise.
Of course, there is still a lot to be done. And, renewal of Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, is at the top of my list. But, even in that regard, things seem to be looking up.
Compared with this time last year, the administration is much more engaged at all levels in making the case for renewal of TPA. President Obama’s strong call for TPA in the State of the Union was welcome, though, in my opinion, it was long overdue. I hope that he’ll follow his latest call to action with a real concerted effort to help us get TPA through Congress.
Here in the Finance Committee, we’re doing all we can to help in this effort.
Although the bill I introduced last year with Chairmen Camp and Baucus received broad support, I am currently working with Senator Wyden to see if there is a way to address some additional issues he has raised. We’re working with Chairman Ryan as well.
While there may be some improvements we can make to the bill, I want to make one thing clear: The time for TPA is now.
TPA is how Congress tells the administration and our negotiating partners what a trade agreement must contain to be successfully enacted into law. And, TPA empowers our negotiators to get the best deal possible for American workers.
To succeed in getting TPA renewed, we will need an all-out effort by the administration to make the case for why TPA is so vital to our nation’s ability to fairly engage in international trade and to enhance the health of our economy.
Simply put, trade means jobs.
Today 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. These potential customers account for 92 percent of global economic growth and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power. To maintain a healthy economy, we need the opportunity to sell American products in those markets.
Right now, the United States is engaged in some of the most ambitious trade negotiations in our nation’s history. The first, which I already mentioned, is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.
Renewal of TPA is key to the success of this agreement. Without TPA, the administration will not be able bring back the high-standard agreement Congress needs to ensure its enactment.
Let me be clear here: It would be a grave mistake for the administration to close TPP before Congress enacts TPA. Doing so may lead to doubt as to whether the U.S. could have gotten a better agreement, ultimately eroding support for TPP and jeopardizing its prospects for passage in Congress.
There are also some key outstanding issues that need to be resolved in TPP. As I have stated in the past, my support for TPA by no means ensures that I will support just any version of TPP that happens to be submitted to Congress for approval.
For me, the agreement must achieve a very high standard for the protection of intellectual property, including twelve years of data protection for biologics, and strong copyright and trademark protections. The intellectual property provisions of TPP must also effectively address the theft of trade secrets and ensure effective implementation and enforcement of IP obligations. Provisions to enhance digital trade and address state-owned enterprises are also critical, as is real market access for U.S. exports.
There are other major negotiations that are ongoing, and I am confident that renewal of TPA would help will help bring those to successful conclusions as well.
Most notably, there is the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. TTIP must be a comprehensive agreement, and include provisions on financial services regulation and strong investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms. The agreement must also achieve a high level of IP protection and effectively address the systemic misuse of geographical indications to create market barriers.
I am also hopeful the administration will soon be able to conclude negotiations to update the Information Technology Agreement. And I expect we will see progress in advancing the negotiation of a Trade and Investment Services Agreement and an Environmental Goods Agreement.
Ambassador Froman, all of this represents a very ambitious agenda for your office and for the administration as a whole. But, if I haven’t been clear up to now, let me restate: TPA must be considered an essential element for all of these endeavors.
I believe Congressional renewal of TPA will unleash new energy in our international trade agenda, helping to propel our economy to greater growth and prosperity. History shows that trade agreements concluded with TPA in place create new economic opportunities and higher-paying American jobs.
This year we truly are at the precipice of opportunity. The only question is whether both parties in Congress and the Administration can work together to put in place the necessary tools to seize this opportunity.
I certainly think we can, and I will do everything in my power as Chairman of this committee to ensure our mutual success.
Ambassador Froman, I look forward your testimony today and to working with you to advance a strong, pro-growth trade agenda.
I’d now like to turn it over to Senator Wyden for his opening remarks.
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