Testimony by Thomas J. Donohue on TPA Renewal to Senate Committee on Finance

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 10:00am

​Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Wyden, and distinguished members of the committee, my name is Tom Donohue, and I am President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Chamber). I am pleased to testify today on the importance of renewing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The Chamber is the world’s largest business federation, representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

In the Chamber’s view, reinvigorating economic growth and creating good jobs are the nation’s top priorities. Approximately 17.4 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for work. Participation in the workforce stands at the lowest since 1978, reflecting a significant level of discouragement.

World trade must play a central role in reaching this job-creation goal. After all, outside our borders are markets that represent 80% of the world’s purchasing power, 92% of its economic growth, and 95% of its consumers. The resulting opportunities are immense, and many Americans are already seizing them: One in four manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on American farms is planted for hungry consumers overseas.

Nearly 40 million American jobs depend on trade, as detailed on the coalition website www.TradeBenefitsAmerica.org. Consider the number of jobs that depend on trade just in the states represented by senators serving on this committee: Colorado (709,000), Delaware (123,000), Florida (2.4 million), Georgia (1.2 million), Idaho (195,000), Indiana (796,000), Iowa (448,000), Kansas (392,000), Maryland (790,000), Michigan (1.2 million), Nevada (350,000), New Jersey (1.2 million), New York (2.6 million), North Carolina (1.2 million), Ohio (1.5 million), Oregon (484,000), Pennsylvania (1.6 million), South Carolina (559,000), South Dakota (124,000), Texas (3 million), Utah (374,000), Virginia (1.1 million), Washington (915,000), and Wyoming (68,000).

Another excellent resource on the benefits of trade is www.TradeSupportsJobs.com, a website offering extensive information on U.S. exports by state and congressional district, with detailed data on manufactured goods and services exports, the direct jobs they support, and the markets for which they are bound.

A Level Playing Field for Trade

While the United States receives substantial benefits from trade, there is more than a grain of truth in the observation that the international playing field is unfairly tilted against American workers. The U.S. market is largely open to imports from around the world, but other countries continue to levy tariffs on U.S. exports that in some cases are quite high, and foreign governments have erected other kinds of barriers against U.S. goods and services.

Americans rightly sense that this status quo is unfair to U.S. workers, farmers, and businesses. U.S. exporters face higher tariffs abroad than nearly all our trade competitors. The United States received a rank of 130th among 138 economies in terms of “tariffs faced” by its exports, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Enabling Trade Report. That means U.S. exporters are often at a marked disadvantage to our competitors based in other countries. In addition, a thicket of non-tariff barriers adds to the burden exporters face.

No one wants to go into a basketball game down by a dozen points from the tip-off—but that is exactly what American exporters do every day. These barriers are particularly burdensome for America’s small- and medium-sized companies, approximately 300,000 of which are exporters. The U.S. Chamber believes that American workers, farmers, and companies must be allowed to operate on a level playing field when it comes to trade...

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