Washington, DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today expressed disappointment with Members of Congress for failing to extend funding for the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) before both programs are set to expire today. The NFTC urged Members to put politics aside and approve legislation to extend both programs immediately, and take action to restore funding for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which has lapsed since December 31, 2010. The NFTC released the following statement.
“We are deeply disappointed that Congress has failed to take action to extend funding for these programs. Since ATPA and TAA were extended for six weeks in late December, Members have had opportunities to come together, put narrow political interests aside, and do what is best for the hundreds of thousands of American workers and exporters in Andean countries who benefit from these programs,” said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. “It is unfortunate that instead of rising above partisan disagreements, Congress has let both of these programs expire. Thoughtful leadership should have prevailed by now, and we urge Members to work together as soon as possible in the next day or two to reach consensus and approve legislation extending funding.”
“We are in absolute agreement that all three pending free trade agreements are crucial to increasing U.S. economic growth and exports, and supporting American jobs, and we believe that all should be presented to Congress for approval as soon as possible this year. However, we do not agree that ATPA, TAA and GSP and the benefits that flow from these programs should hang in the balance merely to prove a political point,” said Reinsch.
“We applaud Members of Congress who stand up in principle to promote economic growth through trade, but it is counterintuitive to let these trade assistance and preference programs expire when they are part of the solution, not the problem,” said NFTC Vice President for Global Trade Issues Chuck Dittrich. “More than 360,000 American workers who have been adversely impacted by trade have been certified to receive training, health and other TAA benefits since May 2009, and some 5,000 U.S. agricultural producers are receiving assistance as well.”
“Similarly, ATPA helps afford market access to our trading partners in Andean nations, including Colombia, which has recently been ravaged by relentless floods that have literally left crops and the economic vitality of key industries under water,” said Dittrich. “Failing to extend preferences not only impacts industries and workers in Colombia and other Andean nations, but also the hundreds of thousands of American workers whose jobs depend on trade.”
“The expiration of the GSP program, which has lapsed for nearly a month and a half, is already having a negative economic impact by increasing the cost of inputs for American manufacturers. At a time when we are trying to find ways to boost the U.S. economy, failing to act in our economic interest has very real costs – costs that we cannot afford,” said Dittrich.
“The NFTC and its members stand in support of those Members of Congress who continue to work for a bipartisan solution to immediately extend these important programs and call on all Members to join them,” Reinsch concluded.
Advancing Global Commerce for Nearly A Century- 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 Washington and New York.
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