Good morning, this is our annual hearing on the interagency Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) annual report on the status of our efforts to coordinate national export strategy.
Our distinguished witness today is The Honorable William M. Daley, Secretary of Commerce and Chairman of the TPCC. Mr. Secretary, we are pleased to have you appear before us. I know you have a long history of export promotion from your private sector experience, to your service as the NAFTA "czar", and now in your position as our chief export promoter.
I'd also like to thank the Ranking Member of this Committee, Senator Sarbanes, for his work in creating the TPCC in 1992 to help us meet the challenge of promoting our exports in a more coordinated and efficient manner, particularly when our trading partners were expanding their own export promotion activities.
The TPCC goals fit in well with one of my own goals as a Senator to spend more time in the Congress exercising our oversight function. We spend a lot of time here putting out legislative fires and considering must-pass legislation such as the annual appropriations bills and legislation which needs to be reauthorized. Our oversight function suffers as other priorities take precedence.
The TPCC provides a structure by which the 20 trade agencies work together to try to eliminate duplication and maximize the use of our scarce budget dollars. The annual report--this is the sixth one now--is a good opportunity to talk about where we are on our national export strategy.
Your work toward a unified budget as well as performance measures for TPCC agencies is helpful, but I think we would all agree there is more work to be done. This seems to be a greater task than earlier envisioned, and I will appreciate your comments on where we are in that process. I understand your goal is to have a unified budget by 2000.
There are 20 trade promotion agencies, and the report details their role in our export strategy. They are all involved in very positive export promotion efforts, but I can't but help note that there still appears to be some duplication of efforts. I hope that further streamlining can be done to better utilize existing resources.
I was pleased that a major highlight of this year's report is the need to meet the challenge of continuing to be the world's largest exporter as we address the Asian crisis as well as its contagion in other areas. These crises are seriously impacting our exports, particularly our agricultural exports. Those weak economies have also sought to increase their exports to us, which has increased our trade deficit and increased protectionist fears. This is not the time to shut out imports, however. This is the time to help stabilize these shaky economies abroad by working with the IMF to achieve necessary economic reforms to avoid repeated crises and to restore and build long-term markets for the products of our farmers and workers.
I am pleased that we are helping the IMF provide the technical expertise necessary to achieve these needed reforms. This is one item on your excellent 10 point plan. As a supporter of the IMF, and its replenishment, I realize the very difficult process of achieving the economic reforms included in every IMF package. I doubt these reforms can be accomplished without technical assistance of member countries.
Your 10 point plan also focuses on technical barriers to trade, to advocacy efforts, a better approach for trade missions, efforts to make the Export Assistance Centers work better, antibribery and good-governance efforts, strengthening promotion efforts in the Big Emerging Markets, and improving our very important export financing efforts through Ex-Im, OPIC, TDA and USDA. Promoting privatization is also important to promoting economic reforms in many countries that will help build export markets in the future. Your efforts to promote compliance to trade agreements and to combat unfair trade practices abroad are also important as export promotion measures.
I would add one more section to your 10 point plan, and that is promoting positive legislation to help us achieve export market gains, such as Fast Track authority. Farmers in my state, who spent so much time promoting a Fast Track vote this year, were sorely disappointed that the Administration did not support a vote this year. It should be a top priority for the TPCC early next year. Also, I don't need to remind you that the increasing trend in the Congress is to use trade as a foreign policy tool through unilateral sanctions. The President has been just as eager to sanction under these laws or under existing authority. That is why I am a co-sponsor of the Lugar Sanctions Reform Act, and hope you will help us pass this needed legislation. Tightening export controls is also a tempting target for many in the Congress, and you have already observed some of these efforts in the last two DOD Authorization bills. We need your help here as well. These are policies that are counterproductive, rarely accomplishing their purpose, and costing our farmers and workers valuable exports and jobs.
We've come here to listen to you, Mr. Secretary, but I know Senator Sarbanes will want to make
some opening comments, so I won't prolong my remarks. I congratulate you for the progress that
has been made, for the help you give to exporters, especially smaller companies, and I urge you
to do what you can to continue that progress.
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