Mr. Chairman, Senator Sarbanes, and Members of the Committee, I am honored to appear before you today as President Bush's nominee to be Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. I am humbled by the confidence the President and Secretary Evans have placed in me. I look forward to representing our nation's interests in the international trade arena and am eager to tackle that challenge.
America's ability to lead on trade ultimately depends on a partnership between Congress and the President. That boils down to a question of trust between Members of Congress and the President and his team. If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed by the Senate, my primary objective will be to establish a strong working relationship with the members of the Committee and your staff to ensure that ours is a partnership that works.
I intend to establish a regular schedule of meetings with your staff to ensure that you are fully informed of our progress. I will always be on call and will always be interested in your views on how we can improve our performance at the Commerce Department. I look forward to your advice and counsel.
President Bush and Secretary Evans are fond of quoting Ronald Reagan for the proposition that trade represents a "forward strategy for freedom." The Commerce Department's International Trade Administration ("ITA") is on the front lines in that effort.
The staff in Trade Development are the U.S. government's industry experts, providing technical support to our trade negotiators, advice to American exporters, and advocacy for U.S. firms in sector-specific talks with our trading partners. Officials in Market Access and Compliance ("MAC") advocate the American exporter's interest in trade negotiations and are responsible for ensuring that American firms get the benefit of the bargain under our trade agreements. Import Administration ensures that our firms compete internationally on a level playing field. The officers of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service link American firms - particularly small- and medium-sized businesses - with trade and business development opportunities abroad.
I have had the good fortune to work with many of the professionals in International Trade Administration throughout my career, both in my prior public service with the State Department, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and on the staff of the Senate Finance Committee, as well as during the many years I spent in the private sector. I want to underscore for the Committee, and for my friends in the Department, that I consider it an honor to have the opportunity to work side-by-side with them in advancing America's trade agenda. I also want to underscore how pleased I that a colleague of Maria Cino's experience and stature will join our team in ITA as the head of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.
We live in a time of unprecedented economic opportunity and unprecedented economic challenge. The end of Cold War barriers to peaceful commerce and the changing nature of communications and transportation technology have made us neighbors of every country around the globe. The challenge lies in ensuring that those changes expand the economic opportunity for all Americans.
The Commerce Department's International Trade Administration has a significant role to play in that effort. It is the American entrepreneur who puts his or her capital at risk and American workers who with their labor ensure that American goods and services represent a hallmark of quality around the world. It is their efforts, not the government's, that create economic prosperity. What we in government can do, however, is help shape an environment in which goods, services, capital and ideas flow freely because that is the environment in which the entrepreneur's risk and the American worker's labor will ultimately be rewarded.
I would like to outline three priorities I intend to focus on if confirmed as Under Secretary for International Trade that I believe will serve that end. First and foremost is expanding export opportunities for American business. At a practical level, that effort involves concentrating the Department's resources in ways that are likely to provide the greatest pay-off for American businesses trying to gain access to world markets.
The challenge within ITA is to ensure that the component parts stay fixed on a single goal - identifying promising targets for our exporters and providing the support they need to reach those markets. The Banking Committee has been in the forefront of providing the Department with the tools to improve our performance in that regard. In particular, I would like to reinvigorate the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee as the vehicle for bringing not just the Department's resources to bear on behalf of U.S. exporters, but the resources of the government as a whole.
The Commerce Department can also contribute to the effort to expand the benefits of trade to all Americans. I intend, for example, to work closely with other parts of the Department, other U.S. agencies, and with trade promotion offices at the state-level to reach out to minority-owned businesses interested in international markets. I am committed to working closely with the Small Business Administration, in particular, to ensure that those small- and medium-sized businesses that provide the overwhelming source of new employment in our economy have the opportunity to "go global" from the outset of their existence.
Second, I want the Bush Administration's tenure to reflect the strongest possible commitment to the enforcement of our trade agreements. Both the President and Secretary Evans fully support that effort. We cannot expect the American public's support for an active trade agenda if our exporters do not get the benefit of the bargain they have a right to expect from our trade agreements.
What that means in practical terms is ensuring that each and every employee in the Commerce Department is focused on serving our exporters on the ground. If the problem lies with an errant interpretation of the World Trade Organization Customs Valuation Agreement by a customs official in Marseille, I want our Foreign Commercial Service officers to solve that problem at a working level in Marseille so that the goods can reach their markets without further delay. If the problem is a systemic one - a pattern of behavior that violates our rights under trade agreements, I want to hear about it immediately so that the staff in Trade Development can bring the weight of the U.S. government to bear on the problem at a political level as early as possible in pursuit of a practical solution to our exporters' problems. If the problem is one that requires us to go to dispute settlement under our various trade agreements, I want our Market Access and Compliance officers to understand the importance of building the factual record for our claim and working closely with our counterparts in the Office of the United States Trade Representative to ensure that the dispute settlement process vindicates our rights.
Third, I would like to adopt the same results-oriented approach to the administration of our unfair trade laws by the Import Administration. Congress never intended antidumping and countervailing duty actions to be an end in themselves. Rather, the unfair trade laws represent tools that should be used in an effort to eliminate the underlying unfair trade practices that distort markets and deny American firms - and firms worldwide - to compete on an equal basis.
The debate over the earliest versions of the U.S countervailing duty law in the 1890s reflected Congress' intent to offset the market distortions introduced into the sugar trade by Russian subsidies to sugar production. Congress' action, however, also reflected an intent to provide leverage to pursue the elimination of such practices and their harmful effects on U.S. markets.
It is time to restore that focus to our efforts. Whether the issue is steel, lumber, semiconductors, or supercomputers, our goal should be the elimination of unfair practices that interfere with the market's ability to guide investment to its most productive use in our own economy and in markets for goods and services world wide. The capital markets impose a strict discipline that steers capital to those activities that generate the highest possible rate of return. Trade distorting subsidies and other unfair practices that interfere with the ability of the capital markets to impose that discipline impose a high cost on our exporters and on our economy as a whole.
In his conversations with me, Secretary Evans has put that in more human and tangible terms. He has often said that there is nothing more dispiriting to American workers and American entrepreneurs who put capital at risk than to see that they are not competing on a level-playing field. If confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to work within the Department, with other agencies, and, most importantly, with American industry to ensure that our policies and our actions target the elimination of trade-distorting practices and the costs they impose.
Let me close by once again thanking the President and Secretary Evans for nominating me to serve the American public as Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. I would also like to reiterate my appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman, to Senator Sarbanes, and to the other members of the Committee for allowing me to appear before you today.
I would also like to thank Senator Bill Roth for having given me the opportunity to serve as the Chief International Trade Counsel while he was Chairman of the Finance Committee for the past four years. Chairman Roth and his esteemed friend and colleague, Senator Pat Moynihan, the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, exemplified the spirit that should always imbue the democratic process. I will be forever in their debt for the education and inspiration their leadership provided.
Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to thank my wife, Pam, and my children, Nicole, Kirsten, and Noah, for their support for me while I have been in public service. Pam recently left her law partnership and her role as the first woman ever to chair the American Bar Association's Section of Taxation to serve President Bush and Treasury Secretary O'Neill as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Tax Policy. I can say, objectively, based on 21 years of evidence that Pam is the best partner anyone could ask for -- the President and Secretary O'Neill could not have found a better choice.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
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