FTA/TAA Package Critical to Protect American Workers and Open Markets

Press Release

By:  John Kerry
Date: July 7, 2011
Location: Washington DC

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement today at the Committee's markup of the Trade Adjustment Assistance and three FTA's negotiated by the Obama Administration.

"Taken together, the trade agreements and trade adjustment assistance restoration we are considering will pave the way for us to open key markets to American products and provide American workers with the support they need to adjust to an increasingly competitive world," Senator Kerry said.

The full text of Senator Kerry's statement is below:

Mr. Chairman, I want to commend you for your tireless efforts to construct a package of proposals that deserves bipartisan support today. I still believe in this institution and hope that we can return to the tradition of working in a bipartisan manner.

Taken together, the trade agreements and trade adjustment assistance restoration we are considering will pave the way for us to open key markets to American products and provide American workers with the support they need to adjust to an increasingly competitive world.

We all know that America cannot continue to stand idly by while our Chinese and European rivals move to seize markets abroad. And our friends in Korea, Colombia, and Panama have worked with us in good faith to make the agreements before us today fair and strong.

But at the same time as we reaffirm our commitment to open markets, we must help Americans who lose their jobs because of trade.

I support these agreements they help families stretch their dollars and lower tariffs abroad result in more competitive exports that sustain American jobs. Competition spurs innovation and innovation spurs job creation. We can compete and win on a level playing field.

But we must also recognize that there are real Americans struggling with real disruptions to their lives as a result of trade policy decisions made here in Washington.

Workers at call centers moved to India and line workers at manufacturing plants moved to China did not make the decisions to participate in the international trading system that made those shifts possible, Washington made it for them.

And it is not the worker in the Midwest competing with new Korean imports that is choosing to further expose Americans to competition in exchange for greater access to markets abroad through three new trade agreements.

The moral equation seems self evident to me. We owe help to those American workers on the short end of the economic forces we unleash through trade in order to allow our exporters and consumers to justly reap trade's benefits.

It is unfortunate some today will call our work on trade adjustment assistance a gift to unions. That's simply wrong. The assistance doesn't go to unions, it goes to workers. It is not unions that are calling for us to help workers who lose their jobs because of trade; it is our conscience and common sense. And if we do not help those workers, Americans will not support the further pursuit of open markets.

Mr. Chairman, you and President Obama should be applauded for staying at the table and driving a fair bargain with our trading partners and Chairman Camp, and I believe that we must all now do whatever we can to make sure this package moves forward without delay.