Keith Chu (202) 224-4515
Wyden Statement at Customs Conference Committee
As Prepared for Delivery
Six months ago the Senate and House came together on a bipartisan basis and said the NAFTA era in trade was over. The United States, from that point forward, was going to follow a new playbook on trade. That’s exactly what this conference report is all about.
With this legislation, Congress has an opportunity to put steadfast, vigorous enforcement at the forefront of a new, 21st century trade policy in order to crack down on trade cheats and fight for America’s workers, America’s businesses, and America’s priorities. This will be the strongest package of enforcement policies Congress has considered in decades.
Too often, companies sneak counterfeit goods past our borders. Foreign governments spy on our businesses and enforcers. They bully our firms into relocating jobs and turning over intellectual property. They try to undercut American industries so quickly that the U.S. is unable to act before it’s too late.
Our policies need to help guarantee that the U.S. stays ahead of these schemes. There are a few extraordinarily important priorities I want to highlight.
First is the ENFORCE Act, which will give our customs agency more tools to crack down on cheaters. This is a proposal I’ve been fighting to get into law for years. Foreign companies too frequently try to cheat and evade duties by concealing their identities and shipping their products on untraceable routes. The ENFORCE Act will help stop them.
In addition, this legislation absolutely must close an egregious loophole that allowed products made with slave and child labor to be imported to the U.S.
It must also make the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center a permanent institution that brings all hands on deck fighting against trade cheats.
And, this legislation must include the new trust fund for trade enforcement to guarantee that the U.S. continues to invest in fresh ideas to protect our workers and businesses.
I want to say a word about environmental protections, which is a major priority for me and many of my Democratic colleagues. This bill cannot and will not in any way prevent the United States from negotiating climate agreements. In fact, for the first time, this is an opportunity to make environmental issues a priority for our trade enforcers.
Not only that, this conference report should direct trade negotiators to act against illegal fishing and fish subsidies that are destroying our oceans and give Customs more training to stop stolen timber. Both of those are critical environmental issues in trade.
With respect to cracking down on currency manipulation, my colleagues in the House have made it very clear they are only willing to go so far. I will do all I can in this conference to guarantee that our trade policies go further than ever to tackle currency manipulation. While in my view it’s vital that this conference committee move forward with the strongest enforcement package possible, my colleagues on this side and I will take every opportunity going forward to combat currency manipulation.
My bottom line is that strong enforcement is a major part of how you get to “trade done right.” This is a core element of a much tougher, 21st century trade policy, and I urge my colleagues to support it.
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