Yesterday, I had the privilege of testifying at a U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee hearing on manufacturing and trade. While views on how trade relates to U.S. manufacturing and how to get the latter to grow again differed somewhat among the witnesses and committee members, I was encouraged by some important common themes:
> • We need an overarching trade policy. Chairman Casey commented that the policy could be used as a measuring stick to ensure that a specific trade agreement being negotiated will level the playing field for U.S. business, increase U.S. exports and create U.S. jobs. I believe such a policy would provide all stakeholders the opportunity to converge on cutting edge trade issues at a strategic level, for example how to holistically handle trade issues related to cloud computing services. This policy convergence would avoid the last minute fire drills during intense trade negotiations that often arise to address controversial trade issues such as regulating state owned enterprises and preventing the forced disclosure of trade secrets as a condition of market access.
> • Vice- Chairman Brady quoted some great statistics on the benefits of greater market access overseas and its importance to U.S. business interests. But he also talked about the need to create a better enabling environment at home, including lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate to increase investment and jobs in the U.S. He’s right. Increasing both U.S. competitiveness and foreign market access is essential for America’s growth and prosperity.
> • There were many comments suggesting the U.S. government should enter into significantly more robust free trade agreements, so that we don’t continue to fall behind other governments and put U.S. companies and workers at a competitive disadvantage.
> • Several participants, including me, commented that trade agreements need to be modernized to address emerging trade barriers such as new domestic market preferences, discriminatory standards, intellectual property erosion, etc.
I am hopeful that the discussion and the identification of this common ground will enable future progress in the area of trade. And I encourage Congress to act quickly to approve the three pending trade agreements. My written submission, which discusses some of these issues in more detail, is available here:Joint Economic Committee Testimony 09_17_11.docx.