Good morning. This week, Americans had some good news about strong growth in
our economy, yet we cannot be content or complacent. Job creation and business
investment are still not what they should be. We want short-term recovery to
become long-term expansion. And one of the best ways to encourage high-paying
jobs and long-term growth is expanded trade.
I'm pleased that the United States Senate is set to begin an important debate
on trade legislation that will help American workers and farmers and consumers.
I have traveled around the country and seen the value of trade, and foreign
leaders have told me how trade will strengthen security and economic growth
in our hemisphere.
The benefits of greater trade are beyond dispute. During the 1990s, U.S. exporters
generated about one-quarter of our economic growth through the sale of American
goods abroad. Trade boosts our productivity and creates higher-paying jobs.
The latest global trade agreement and NAFTA have improved the average standard
of living for an American family of four by up to $2,000 a year.
Now is the time to build on this record of success. The Senate should pass the
pending trade legislation without delay. Trade promotion authority would give
me the flexibility to negotiate with other countries to open their markets and
get the best deals for American producers and workers. Congress would still
have the final up or down vote on any trade agreement. The previous five Presidents
have had this authority; it expired eight years ago. And, since then, America
has sacrificed its traditional leadership role in trade.
For two decades, trade promotion authority was a bipartisan commitment. It was
a commitment because it represented our national interest in expanded foreign
markets. More than 150 trade agreements exist throughout the world. The European
Union is party to 31 of them, and Mexico to 10. The United States is party to
just three. Passage of the TPA will give America's entrepreneurs and workers
and farmers and ranchers a fair shot at the markets of the world.
The Andean Trade Preference Act is a good example of how trade can also help
increase the security of America. Over the past 10 years, this law has given
the four Andean nations more access to our markets, which they report has created
140,000 jobs. The law has also helped provide an economic alternative to the
production of drugs. We need to renew and expand the Andean Trade Preference
Act as soon as possible. If we fail to act before May 16th, 90 days worth of
import duties will come due, raising prices for American consumers and hampering
the region's economic development.
I recognize that some American workers may face adjustment challenges as a result
of trade. I support helping these workers by reauthorizing and improving trade
adjustment assistance programs that will give workers impacted by trade new
skills, help them find new jobs quickly, and provide them with financial assistance.
Nearly five months have passed since the House of Representatives approved trade
promotion authority and the Andean trade legislation. Every day we go without
expanding trade is another day of missed opportunities to strengthen our economy.
The Senate must act and affirm America's trade leadership in a bipartisan manner.
We cannot let this initiative fall victim to partisan politics. Our trading
partners are waiting for us. American workers are depending on us. And America
cannot afford further delay.