Tom Carper, U.S. Senator for Delaware

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, attended the Senate Finance Committee hearing on “President Obama's 2014 Trade Policy Agenda.”

A copy of Sen. Carper's opening statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this important hearing today. And thank you for your steady leadership of this committee since our friend Ambassador Baucus left the Senate in February. I look forward to continue working with you on the vital work this committee takes up each year. I also welcome Ambassador Froman, freshly arrived back in Washington after what must have been an exhausting trip to Eastern Asia with President Obama. I am pleased to hear from you what priorities you plan to pursue in the coming year.

“One of the most important issues we deal with in this committee is the one that brings us here today: trade. The trade policy that we discuss today is critical to the economy recovering and our shared goal of creating as many good paying jobs here in America as we can. Or more accurately, creating the environment in which job growth is possible.

“That critical need to create jobs and help our economy is why I welcomed the introduction of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 (TPA) earlier this year. I believe this bipartisan, bicameral legislation will do a great deal to modernize the process for trade negotiations. It’s important that this Congress pass this legislation as soon as possible to put the positive economic chain reaction in motion.

“Renewing TPA, which expired in 2007, reforms our current process to make it more effective, improve transparency, and provide Congress with enhanced oversight of the Administration’s trade negotiation efforts.

“If agreed to, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 would provide the U.S. with the opportunity to seek commitments to address new or expanded issues, such as unfair regulatory barriers and state-owned enterprises that confront American companies seeking to do business in other countries. One of the most urgent needs for enacting this legislation is to create a path forward on ambitious trade agreements that represent enormous opportunity, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Adopting these trade agreements would help bolster our relationship with some of the fastest growing economies in the world.

“In Delaware, international trade supports 120,000 jobs and billions of dollars in exports to 187 countries around the world. Simply put, more consumers of Delaware and U.S. goods and services represent more quality job opportunities here in the U.S. Additionally, 70 percent of my state’s agricultural exports come from the poultry industry, and I have continually advocated for opening new markets for U.S. poultry, including chicken products from Delaware. The two major trade agreements currently being negotiated, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), both represent tremendous opportunities to expand agricultural exports, and I hope that this is considered a priority as negotiations continue.

“In a global economy the United States should seek to establish high-standard symbiotic trade relationships with every corner of the world. Increased international trade represents significant potential for U.S. manufacturers, farmers and service providers, which is important, but we must tread carefully to ensure we truly achieve the high-standard agreement that will maximize opportunities for creating and preserving jobs in America, while minimizing the potential loss of American jobs.  

“Another important priority to keep track of during trade negotiations is considering the role of small businesses in international trade. Small businesses are the backbone of the nation’s economy, and are the primary source of American jobs. Additionally, small and medium sized enterprises, while trading on a smaller scale individually, account for the largest group of U.S. exporters collectively.

“The legislation introduced by Senator Hatch and our former colleague Ambassador Baucus at the beginning of this year is a great start, but we must finish the job. Undoubtedly there are improvements we can make to the bill, and I will continue to work closely with my colleagues and the administration to ensure that we move to mark-up quickly and take an important step toward enacting this important legislation.”