Linda Sánchez Remarks at Trade Policy Agenda Hearing (July 18, 2013)
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (CA-38) questioned U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman during a hearing of the House Committee on Ways and Means titled “President Obama's Trade Policy Agenda." Below are her remarks and question to Ambassador Froman.
REP. LINDA SANCHEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And Ambassador Froman, congratulations on your confirmation on thank you for being here to discuss the administration's trade agenda. You're obviously stepping into the U.S. Trade Representative at a very exciting time. The administration is negotiating agreements with the European Union, the Pacific Rim countries and working on a new international services agreement.
We also have the issue of congressional action on trade promotion authority or fast-track authority, and the expiring generalized system of preferences programs. And hopefully, tougher trade enforcement rules.
I guess the main point that I want to express to you is that in the past I've been highly critical of past U.S. trade representatives because all too often I think that our trade deals that are negotiated are unfair to American workers and that they erode our U.S. manufacturing base.
So I just want to share with you a few of the priorities that I think we should keep in mind as you continue your work in that office.
First of all, strengthening Customs enforcement to create a level playing field for American industries is something that I'm very interested in seeing.
Aggressively trying to crack down on currency manipulators, one of my colleagues mentioned that that results in huge job losses for American businesses.
Ensuring high levels of labor and environmental standards in our trade negotiations, and specifically trying to build on the bipartisan May 10th agreement.
And so promoting U.S. manufacturing and opening up access to foreign markets.
So I look forward to hopefully working with you and my colleagues to ensure that our trade agenda keeps in mind those priorities.
You've been asked questions about aggressively cracking down on anti-dumping and countervailing duty violators. That is an area that I'm pleased to see progress on with this administration. But I think we can be doing more there.
So I'm going to ask you a question specifically about the Trans-Pacific Partnership because I do have some concerns there. Clearly, Japan's late entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership has created concerns for the U.S. automotive industry. And for instance, the Japanese automotive companies control more than 94 percent of the domestic Japanese market, making Japan one of the most-closed auto markets in the world. And that's despite the fact that Japanese auto tariffs are at zero percent.
So with the TPP negotiations, how does the USTR hope to effectively address Japanese nontariff barriers?
AMB. FROMAN: Well, thank you very much. And that, obviously, Japan's auto sector has been an area of concern for, as Ranking Member Levin said, for decades. And it is still very much a concern today.
And that's why prior to allowing Japan to come into TPP, we insisted on negotiating certain upfront commitments, both in terms of the reduction of tariffs in the U.S., but also in terms of access to their market, the more than doubling of the PHP program which provides for expedited entry of imports into Japan, but also agreed on the terms of reference for a specific parallel negotiation on the auto sector that will be part of TPP, will be binding, will be subject to dispute resolution.
And that negotiations are focused directly at those nontariff barriers that you mentioned.
We're looking forward to working with the auto industry here and autoworkers here to get our best understanding of their priorities for that negotiation. But this is a high priority for us and we'll want to make sure that we achieve concrete results through these negotiations.
REP. CAMP: All right, thank you.
REP. SANCHEZ: Thank you.