I have long believed that when instituted correctly and fairly, trade agreements open up new markets to U.S. goods, create opportunities for American companies and their employees, and lift the standard of living for people in the country with whom we are trading. If the United States is going to compete in the 21st century global economy, we cannot shy away from opportunities to guide and expand global trade.
At the start of the last session of Congress, I was proud to join with members of both parties to announce a New Trade Policy for America. This agreement was the culmination of several years of hard work done by Democrats. It guarantees that enforceable labor, environment, and protections for American-made products are included in trade agreements. The inclusion of these principals within all trade agreements will make certain that Americans can compete globally on a level playing field.
I have also worked to make sure our trade efforts are sound and do not promote bad policy. We also need to write laws the comply with international obligations. For example, in a trade dispute brought by Brazil to the World Trade Organization, it was determined that the U.S. cotton subsidy program violated international trade rules. Instead of working to adjust this program immediately, the U.S. agreed to pay Brazil $147.3 million a year for technical assistance to the cotton program. This payout is only further distorting the market and obstructing future trade growth. For this reason, I sent a letter to President Obama in April of this year, urging him to resolve the U.S.-Brazil trade dispute by updating and reforming U.S. agricultural subsidies, particularly cotton, instead of making annual payments to Brazil. We cannot continue to take the easy way out by maintaining this payout and we absolutely cannot expect our trading partners to play be the rules if we are not willing to do the same. Instead, we must work to promote fiscally responsible policies that do not distort the marketplace.