Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless 202-224-4515
Hatch: Trade Enhances America’s Security at Home and Influence Abroad
In speech on Senate Floor, Utah senator says, “Trade is an effective exercise of America’s economic power and influence. Trade is how you spread capitalism and encourage other countries to open their economies. Trade is how you export American values in the developing world. And, most importantly, trade is how you counter the growing influence of countries like China in the world economy.
WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) highlighted why high-standard free trade agreements enhance the security of the United States and boost its influence around the globe. Hatch went on to detail why the Senate-passed bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA 2015) is essential to close such trade deals.
“It is absolutely necessary for advancing U.S. interests abroad and protecting the opportunities for millions of Americans to earn and compete for a livelihood in an increasingly global trade environment. With the House TPA vote set to take place in a matter of days, I hope our colleagues in the other chamber will recognize the strategic and economic realities we face as a country and vote to advance our nation’s interests and security. I am confident that most of them will make the right choice,” Hatch said.
The complete speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:
Mr. President, as the House of Representatives moves closer to a vote on the Senate-passed legislation to renew Trade Promotion Authority, I wanted to take a few minutes to about the links between our nation’s trade policy, foreign policy, and national security.
Whether it’s Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, civil wars in the Middle East, or ongoing efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, the world faces a number of challenges that are impacting the future geopolitical landscape. In all of this, the question we have to consider is: Going forward, what role will the U.S. play? Are we going to lead or follow?
Make no mistake, the path we take on international trade will say a lot about how we plan to answer that question.
Consider a few facts.
In the next few years, China will pass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy.
It is already the world’s largest exporting country.
China is continually seeking to expand its influence in order to dictate the terms of international trade, particularly in places like Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, and Latin America.
In other words, Mr. President, when we’re talking about trade and the possibility of the U.S. retreating from the international marketplace, China is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room. Indeed, any ground we cede in leading the world on trade is, more likely than not, ground ceded to China.
I’ve heard many people – including members of Congress – express their concerns about China, both strategically and economically, and rightfully so. After all, when it comes to trade, China has constantly shown a disregard for international norms and standards.
However, oddly enough, many of those same people who talk the most about the threat posed by China have expressed opposition to TPA and to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.
This is puzzling and reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the Senate TPA bill and free trade in general.
If we’re serious about keeping China and its growing economic and political influence in check, getting a strong TPP agreement that advances U.S. interests should be a top priority. In addition, if we want to eventually convince China to change their harmful practices, a high-standard TPP agreement would be a big step in the right direction.
Free trade agreements like TPP, if done correctly, should provide new rules for trade in the 21st Century. They should set modern standards for economic liberalization and integration, including the protection of foreign investments and intellectual property rights, and the marginalization of state-owned enterprises.
We need to be setting the standards and writing the rules on trade so that our workers, innovators, researchers, and job creators can fairly compete in the global market.
If we don’t lead, if we sit on the sidelines, Americans will be competing on an imbalanced playing field with rules designed specifically to disadvantage them. Given that TPP countries comprise 40 percent of the world economy, it is vital that we improve our ability to compete in that region.
Moreover, if TPP fails, we will lose influence in one of the most economically dynamic and strategic regions of the world. And, any leadership vacuum left by the U.S. will almost certainly be filled by someone else, in this case, most likely China.
But don’t just take my word for it.
Congress recently received a letter from 17 former Secretaries of Defense and retired military leaders including Colin Powell, Leon Panetta, William Perry, and Donald Rumsfeld.
In that letter, these leaders said: “We write to express our strongest possible support for enactment of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which is critical to the successful conclusion of two vital agreements: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Indeed, TPP in particular will shape an economic dynamic over the next several decades that will link the United States with one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic regions. If, however, we fail to move forward with TPP, Asian economies will almost certainly develop along a China-centric model. In fact, China is already pursuing an alternative regional free trade initiative. TPP, combined with T-TIP, would allow the United States and our closest allies to help shape the rules and standards for global trade.”
The concerns outlined in this letter went beyond China.
The letter continues: “The stakes are clear. There are tremendous strategic benefits to TPP and TTIP, and there would be harmful strategic consequences if we fail to secure these agreements. In both Asia-Pacific and the Atlantic, our allies and partners would question our commitments, doubt our resolve, and inevitably look to other partners. America’s prestige, influence, and leadership are on the line. With TPP originating in the Bush administration, these agreements are fundamentally bipartisan in nature and squarely in our national security interest. It is vitally important that we seize the new strategic opportunities these agreements offer our nation.”
When seventeen former Secretaries of Defense, Admirals, and Generals – who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations – join together with such a strong message, they probably have a point. And Congress had better listen closely.
Many people – including a number of our colleagues here in Congress -- continually argue that one of the best uses of American power would be to better promote human rights and democracy in developing countries and increase our efforts at alleviating poverty.
I don’t necessarily disagree with this sentiment.
Indeed, while there are different opinions about how we can best accomplish these goals, I think most of us here in Congress – in both the Senate and the House – agree with the basic premise that we should continually be working to expand our influence and advance our values, particularly in the developing world.
History has demonstrated that the best way to accomplish these objectives is to increase U.S. trade with these countries. Indeed, if we want to export the benefits of American exceptionalism, capitalism, work-ethic, and democracy, a freer, expanded exchange of goods is the best way to do it.
Trade, Mr. President, is an effective exercise of America’s economic power and influence.
Trade is how you spread capitalism and encourage other countries to open their economies.
Trade is how you export American values in the developing world.
And, most importantly, trade is how you counter the growing influence of countries like China in the world economy.
The stakes are high. The importance of TPP and other trade agreements to our strategic and security interests is obvious, Mr. President. And, given that reality, the importance of TPA should be just as obvious.
Put simply, without TPA, there is no TPP. That’s just a fact.
Sure, technically speaking, TPA isn’t required for the administration to complete negotiations and send the agreement to Congress. But, technicalities aside, that route is unlikely to yield a desirable result, both in terms of the substance and the process.
Japan and Canada, two of our largest trading partners in the TPP negotiations, have each stated that they are reluctant to bring their final offers to the table until Congress provides the administration with TPA. Trade Promotion Authority assures our trading partners that, if they reach an agreement, it won’t be unraveled when it is sent to Congress for ratification. This allows our negotiators to get the best deal possible.
TPA also ensures that Congress has a meaningful role in crafting the specifics of the agreement by setting objectives, mandating transparency, and requiring periodic updates. And, under our bill, Congress will have more authority than ever to review and respond to the administration on individual trade agreements.
Long story short, Mr. President, TPA is absolutely necessary for advancing U.S. interests abroad and protecting the opportunities for millions of Americans to earn and compete for a livelihood in an increasingly global trade environment.
With the House TPA vote set to take place in a matter of days, I hope our colleagues in the other chamber will recognize the strategic and economic realities we face as a country and vote to advance our nation’s interests and security. I am confident that most of them will make the right choice.
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