Levin Opening Statement At Ways And Means Committee Hearing On U.S. Trade Agenda

Feb 14, 2007

(Washington D.C.)- U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, Chairman of the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, today made the following opening statement at the Ways and Means Committee Hearing on the U.S. Trade Agenda with Ambassador Schwab:

"Trade policy is at a new crossroads in our nation.  Ambassador Schwab, we appreciate that since November you have increased dialogue with the Democratic Majority in the House.  What is needed now is a clear agreement on changes of approach to vital trade issues.
"As you know, Democrats in the House have long held a deep concern about the direction of U.S. trade policy.  The Administration's approach has been far too passive in shaping trade agreements and establishing rules in ways that help raise standards of living in the U.S. and around the globe, in enforcing trade agreements, and in breaking down unfair barriers to U.S. products.

"You said on Monday, 'the equation is quite simple..trade agreements mean more exports, and more exports mean better jobs.'

"We believe the equation is not nearly that simple.  Imports matter as well as exports. More is not automatically better.  We strongly favor expanded trade.  Not as an end in and of itself but as a tool, shaping the rules of competition to maximize the benefits and minimize the downsides of globalization. 

?It is time to craft a new trade policy for this new era of globalization - an activist, internationalist trade policy that expands and shapes trade.  To do so requires real collaboration, moving beyond too often perfunctory consultation. 

"We believe the pending FTAs represent an excellent opportunity if the Administration is truly willing to change its approach.

"As to the Latin American FTAs, our position has been clear and consistent:  The text of the agreement must include the five core International Labor Organization (ILO) standards, with a reasonable transition period and enforceable like other provisions in the Agreement. 

"As to the pending Korea FTA, our position is firmly held: among other key outstanding issues, the Agreement must knock down the economic iron curtain to our industrial goods, including automotive, in a measurable way.

"Time is of the essence on these and several other issues in the FTA's.   The deadline for re-submitting revised agreements under the current TPA is March 31.  Democrats being ready to work to meet this deadline, we need to receive concrete proposals on these issues from the Administration. 

"Setting standards for international competition and knocking down rigid barriers are the opposite of 'protectionism' or 'isolationism', misguided labels sometimes used to avoid real issues.

"A real partnership between this Administration and the new Majority to rebuild the bi-partisan foundation for trade is also necessary to address key issues in the WTO round that has faltered, whether agriculture, industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services or rules. 

"We stand ready to proceed with that kind of true partnership, changing policies where necessary for the benefit of U.S. businesses, workers and farmers in the global marketplace."