WASHINGTON--U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Finance Committee that has jurisdiction over trade policy, called the release of the President’s trade agenda “a long time coming” and urged the Administration to follow up with sustained action starting with swift congressional consideration of the Korea, Panama and Colombia Trade Agreements that have been languishing for years and that would spur job-creation in Utah and across the country.
“The release of the President’s trade agenda is a long-time coming. Doubling our nation’s exports and opening up markets to U.S. goods and services over the next five years, as the Administration outlined today, is critical to our nation’s economic recovery, to creating jobs in Utah, and to a bright future for our children and grandchildren. This is an important goal that we need to work toward,” said Hatch. “Talking about the importance of trade is a good first step, but it has to be followed with real, concrete action. Regrettably up to this point, we’ve heard too much talk and too little action. The Administration needs to step up to the plate in a serious and sustained fashion to push for robust bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.”
Negotiations on the Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements concluded over two years ago, but Congress never considered them. An analysis by C. Fred Bergsten at the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that the enactment of the Korean trade agreement would save the United States 300,000 jobs.
“The Administration must start with the three outstanding trade agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia that have been languishing, because of union opposition, for far too long,” continued Hatch. “Our failure to take up these three agreements has cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs at a time of near ten percent unemployment rate. Furthermore, labor unions deserve a seat at the table in these discussions, but they should not be in the driving seat as they have been over the past several years.”
Hatch also believes that the Administration must act to deal Chinese currency manipulation that, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, would cut the U.S. trade deficit by “about $100 billion and generate at least 700,000 new jobs.”
“Lastly, it is also imperative that the Administration work to confront currency manipulation by China that puts American products at a competitive disadvantage,” concluded Hatch.