Sen. Wyden explains trade bill

Wyden-ron-SenatorOregon Senator Ron Wyden

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden  introduced a bipartisan bill to send the message that our country should only accept trade deals that will boost middle-class U.S. families and advance Oregon values.

The bicameral bill includes unprecedented new provisions to improve transparency, boost Congressional oversight and require stronger enforcement for existing trade agreements, U.S. trade laws, any new trade agreement.

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, introduced by Wyden, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., creates a process for negotiating trade deals, by instructing the administration to follow congressional priorities on trade. In exchange, Congress agrees to vote on trade agreements that live up to TPA conditions in a timely manner.

“Opening foreign markets, where most of the world’s consumers reside, is critical to creating new opportunities for middle-class American jobs in Oregon and nationwide. This bill, together with strong new enforcement tools, Trade Adjustment Assistance and the Health Coverage Tax Credit, sets our country and our state on the right track to craft trade policies that work for more people,” Wyden said.

“I’m proud this bipartisan bill creates what I expect to be unprecedented transparency in trade negotiations, and ensures future trade deals break new ground to promote human rights, improve labor conditions, and safeguard the environment,” Wyden said. “At the core of this agreement is a new mandate for the Open Internet, free speech and digital commerce, by ensuring information can flow freely across national borders over the Internet.”

The founder of Chris King Precision Components welcomed the news of an agreement that will allow Congress to consider a Trans Pacific Partnership with the United States’ trade partners in the Pacific Rim.

“Eliminating trade barriers would be a huge boost for our export business, which makes up 40 to 45 percent of our revenues,’’ said Chris King, whose 140-employee Portland company turns aluminum, steel and titanium into bike parts. “We have no doubt that leveling the playing field in international trade would benefit our company because our high-quality bike parts are in such great demand globally.”

Doug Krahmer, a St. Paul, Oregon blueberry grower with 500 acres, also praised the trade developments.

“We are blessed in Oregon to grow more blueberries than we can possibly eat, and their incredible flavor, consistent quality and high nutritional value make them hot commodities around the world,” Krahmer said. “Reducing trade barriers in Pacific Rim markets is good for local jobs and is a fantastic opportunity to share the bounty of such a coveted Oregon crop like blueberries.”

Mike Budd, Director of International Sales of Portland-based Triad Speakers said progress toward lowering trade obstacles in the Pacific Rim would carry significant benefits for the company and its 47 employees.

“Our employees in Oregon design and manufacture high-quality, build-to-order loudspeakers that we know the rest of the world wants to buy,” Budd said. “We look forward to growing our export business even more in the Pacific Rim countries once there are agreements in place that allow fair competition in that large and growing market.”

To ensure trade works for everyone, the bill includes unprecedented new requirements to increase trade transparency:

– Future trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, must be public for 60 days before the president signs them, and send them to Congress.
– Every member of Congress is required by law to have access to trade negotiations.
– The administration must publish regular summaries of its proposals in trade negotiations.
– A new process to put the brakes on bad trade deals that do not meet the conditions of TPA.

The bill also makes major strides toward raising the bar for labor, environment and human rights:

– Trading partners must adopt and maintain core international labor and environmental standards, with trade sanctions if they do not comply
– Promoting human rights and democratic societies, for the first time ever, are a formal negotiating objective in trade deals,
– Promoting free speech and commerce online, by calling for the free flow of digital information across national borders.

The package creates new tools to enforce trade deals and hold trading partners accountable for living up to agreements:

– Includes Sen. Wyden’s ENFORCE Act, enabling swift action to ensure foreign trade cheats are stopped before U.S. jobs are lost.
– Establishes new directives to require the Administration to focus on fighting foreign trade barriers that have the most impact on U.S. jobs and growth, with specific timetables and Congressional consultations to ensure that it follows through on enforcement priorities.

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