Secretary Gutierrez, USTR Schwab Press for Bipartisan Approval of
Washington, DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) last night hosted its 93rd Annual World Trade Dinner and Award Ceremony at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) delivered the keynote address and discussed trade and the importance of international engagement and multilateral institutions on a range of issues. Hoyer pledged Democratic support for approval of the pending U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), citing it as an example of a bipartisan “New Deal” on trade, which will address workers’ rights, the environment and the safeguarding of American jobs in future trade agreements.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab also urged Members of Congress to approve pending trade agreements with Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea.
“When the Democrats regained majorities in the House and Senate in January, we were presented with an opportunity to advance trade agreements that enforced worker rights and environmental standards,” said Rep. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s Fifth Congressional District and is currently serving his 14th term. “In our opinion, this agreement [May 10 bipartisan agreement on trade] strengthens core values and outlines the path forward for bipartisan trade agreements. We want to work these [agreements] in a bipartisan fashion. We think that is good for our country and we think it is good for the rest of the world.”
Hoyer noted that the House would soon vote on the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, and predicted bipartisan support.
“Free and fair trade not only can foster an international economic system based on the rule of law, but also a movement toward democratic reform, market economics and respect for basic human rights – and as a result a more stable, secure political environment,” said Hoyer. “But certainly one of the greater economic challenges of our time is managing the benefits of trade while addressing the very real, adverse consequences that trade and globalization have had on many of our constituents and communities.”
Ambassador Schwab applauded Rep. Hoyer’s commitment to pursuing a bipartisan consensus on the U.S. trade agenda during her introduction of him. Schwab also reinforced the need for Congress to come together in a bipartisan manner to act as soon as possible on the four pending trade agreements. “This is the beginning of an important journey for all of us. Free trade agreements are never easy…And no matter who controls Congress or the White House, we will need a trade policy that sustains American competitiveness in the global marketplace…The trade policy negotiated during this Congress transcends party and president and politics.”
Commerce Secretary Gutierrez stated that “Congressional approval of the four pending free trade agreements, with Peru, with Colombia, Panama, South Korea will further open up markets of 126 million people with a combined GDP of $1.1 trillion.”
“More than 80 percent of the imports that come in today from Peru, Colombia and Panama enter the United States duty-free. Congress has already given their farmers, ranchers and workers preferential access to our market. The question we have is why can we not do the same for our farmers, our ranchers and our workers,” Gutierrez continued.
“We applaud the leadership of Congressman Hoyer, Ambassador Schwab and Secretary Gutierrez for reaching across the aisle to make positive steps forward on trade and global engagement,” said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. “A bipartisan way forward is the only way forward and the NFTC commends their commitment to this ideal.”
The NFTC dinner was attended by members of Congress, the Administration, and the business community. In addition, ambassadors and embassy officials from numerous countries also attended, including representatives from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, the European Union, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, India, New Zealand, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, Russia, Switzerland, Vietnam and Yemen.
Advancing Global Commerce for Over 90 Years
The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in