Administration Must Shift Course On Trade Policy Prior To TPA Extension

Feb 12, 2007

(Washington D.C.)- U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, offered the following statement after United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab spoke at the National Press Club on the extension of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA):

"Changes in Bush Administration trade policies are a necessary prelude to consideration of extending TPA.  The Administration must demonstrate quickly that they will use present Trade Promotion Authority well - in working with the new Congress to make necessary changes in Free Trade Agreements with Peru, Panama and Colombia, in negotiations with Korea, and in our bi-lateral trading relationships with China, Japan and other nations.

"It is also vital that there be meaningful collaboration with Congress on important World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations that appear to be reconvening.  Satisfactory progress in areas such as agriculture, tariffs, non-tariff barriers, services, and retention of rules will also be an important prelude to the consideration of TPA renewal."

For example, the USTR should insist right now in the negotiations that South Korea end its discriminatory practices that keep U.S. auto and auto-parts from breaking into the South Korean market.  Because of long-standing non-tariff barriers instituted in South Korea, U.S. car companies sold just 5,415 cars in South Korea in 2005. In contrast, South Korea enjoys wide-open access in the U.S. car market with the sale of 688,700 cars. This one-way street has to end.

The Bush Administration should also change the pending Free Trade Agreements with Peru, Panama and Colombia to incorporate enforceable international labor standards.  Basic standards like a ban on child labor, a ban on forced labor, anti-discrimination, and the right of workers to associate and bargain collectively are a win-win for the U.S. and the developing world. 

"We must both expand trade and use it as a tool to shape the rules of competition in the era of globalization.  The Administration's policy has been far too passive in enforcing trade agreements, in breaking down unfair barriers to U.S. products, and in establishing rules that raise standards of living in the U.S. and around the globe."