Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mark Warner on Free Trade Agreements

From U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA):
"Thank you for contacting me about free trade and free trade agreements. I appreciate hearing from you on these important matters. 
              In general, I have been supportive of free trade agreements, which have helped Virginia's economy grow over the last decade. According to the Business Roundtable, from 2002-2012 Virginia's goods exports to free trade agreement (FTA) partners increased by 101%, compared to a 54% growth in exports to the rest of the world. The 2004 U.S.-Singapore free trade agreement enabled Singapore to become the fastest-growing market among the major buyers of Virginia's goods, with Virginia's exports to the country growing 783% between 2004 and 2011. 
              The 114th Congress will have many legislative focuses within the realm of international trade. Two major considerations include the implementation of a possible Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and discussions around trade negotiations for a U.S.-European Union free trade agreement, also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Increased exports may represent the single biggest economic opportunity that we have in America, and these agreements have the potential to boost the Virginia economy and support jobs in the Commonwealth. Additionally, these agreements provide an opportunity to expand protections for labor and the environment. The Administration has indicated that TPP and TTIP will raise labor and environmental standards to higher levels than previous agreements, and I have encouraged the Administration to provide evidence of these improved standards. Congress will also consider the reauthorization of the Trade Promotion Authority, which, if passed, will enable more expeditious consideration of beneficial trade agreements. 
              On April 22, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee voted on a series of four trade-related packages: Trade Adjustment Assistance, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)-Generalized System of Preference (GSP), Customs Enforcement, and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The Trade Adjustment Assistance Package will help American workers who have lost their jobs due to trade get training and education for today's globalized economy. The AGOA-GSP bill is way for the U.S. to spur economic growth in developing economies and these programs have been proven to boost economies around the world. The Customs Enforcement bill ensures that the U.S. can take strong action against countries and companies who seek an unfair advantage against American manufacturers and competitors, Finally, TPA allows a trade agreement that meets explicit negotiating objectives ranging from human rights to environmental standards to benefit from an expedited process in Congress. I voted for all four of these measures, which taken together will protect American workers and allow the U.S. to set the rules of the road in global trade.
              While trade agreements have the ability to break down barriers and open up huge opportunities for America, it is very important to me that we do more as a country to make sure the benefits of trade agreements and international commerce are more evenly distributed. I understand why some people have expressed concerns about trade agreements. In the past, some states have done very well under trade deals, while others have not. Most of Virginia has been lucky to be on the winning end of trade, but in the past some areas, like Southside Virginia, have not seen the same benefits. That is why I am a strong advocate for onshoring initiatives that bring jobs to the United States and greater economic engagement between foreign-owned companies and rural America. In the 112th Congress, I joined my Virginia colleague, Representative Frank Wolf, in sponsoring bipartisan legislation called America Recruits, which would support new inbound investment into the United States. I reintroduced this legislation in October 2013. 
              It is critical that we not lose sight of the fact that many of our competitors, ranging from Canada and the European Union to China, India, and Brazil are signing market access agreements and trade deals as quickly as possible. They understand the value of securing favorable terms for their goods and services in an increasingly globalized world. With 95% of the world's consumers living outside the United States, gaining access to international markets is vital for future economic growth, which is why I support reasonable trade deals that open markets for businesses and create opportunities for American employees.

              Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter, please visit my website at  http://www.warner.senate.gov .
Sincerely,
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator "