I am pleased to welcome before the Banking Committee this morning this panel of distinguished representatives of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC): Donald Evans, Secretary of Commerce, who serves as the Chairman of the TPCC; John Robson, Chairman and President, Export-Import Bank, who serves as the Vice-Chairman of the TPCC; Peter Watson, President and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC); Thelma Askey, Director, Trade and Development Agency (TDA); and Hector Barreto, Administrator, Small Business Administration.
The purpose of today's hearing is to review the preliminary report of the TPCC on its National Export Strategy and the TPCC's plans for the coming year.
The TPCC was established by the Export Enhancement Act of 1992. The purpose of the TPCC as stated in the statute is "to provide a unifying framework to coordinate the export promotion and export financing activities of the United States Government and to develop a government wide strategic plan for carrying out Federal export promotion and export financing programs." The statute designates the Secretary of Commerce as the chairman of the TPCC and designated as members all the federal agencies involved in export promotion.
The effectiveness of the TPCC depends on the leadership it receives from the chairman and the other key members. The first chairman of the TPCC was Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. Together with Ken Brody, the Chairman of the Eximbank who was designated vice chairman of the TPCC, they provided the initial leadership and energy to get the TPCC off the ground and functioning. As a result, the TPCC has a significant list of accomplishments it can point to during its first eight years:
The legislation establishing the TPCC required it to propose to the President an annual unified Federal trade promotion budget that supports its strategic plan. In 1999 Congress amended the statute to change the delivery date for the TPCC's annual National Export Strategy Report to Congress from September 30 to March 30 in order to allow the TPCC's export promotion budget recommendations to be better coordinated with the development and release of the President's budget. The report that is being submitted today, in fact, was delayed from earlier this year in order to allow the new Administration time to focus on this issue.
We now have a new Administration and a new set of leaders for the TPCC. Let me say that I am very encouraged by the response of Secretary Evans, the Chairman of the TPCC, and his Under Secretary for International Trade Grant Aldonas; Eximbank Chairman Robson, the Vice Chairman of the TPCC; and the other TPCC leaders who will testify before the Banking Committee this morning.
From my initial meetings with them earlier this year they seemed to grasp the potential of the TPCC to bring greater coherence and a sense of strategy to the federal government's export promotion efforts.
It is my perception that they have made it a priority in planning the agenda for their agencies and I very much look forward to hearing their testimony this morning.
I should mention that the attention of Congress has been drawn away from its normal agenda because of the tragic events of September 11. It is a measure of the importance in which I hold this issue that this hearing is going forward today. In addition, as the Los Angeles Times mentioned in an article on September 20:
"The world economy is in a fragile state, according to U.S. trade figures, and is likely to slow further as additional security measures triggered by last week's terrorist attacks hinder the flow of goods and services."
The TPCC may thus have an additional challenge posed to it and perhaps may prove useful in assisting U.S. exporters to cope with the new obstacles to trade that may result from those events.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of our distinguished witnesses this morning.