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Public Statements

Hearing of the Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - Creating Jobs: Economic Opportunities in Europe and Eurasia

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

The title of today's hearing is "Creating Jobs: Economic Opportunities in Europe and Eurasia." As I have made clear in past hearings and statements, I am concerned by the state of Europe's economy and financial markets. Given this concern, you may be surprised that I think there is opportunity in Europe. Despite the current financial crisis, the combined nations of the
European Union remain the United States' largest trading partner. In addition, Turkey, Russia, Central Asia, and emerging Eastern European markets each present additional opportunities for American exporters.

The natural tendency during tough economic and financial times is to insulate oneself from fluctuating global markets. To some extent, this makes sense. Some European governments remain volatile and thus U.S. investors and exporters should remain cautious.

However, there are European nations who are weathering the crisis and present opportunities for U.S. exporters and investors to capitalize upon.
We must not forget that growth is an important component of the solution to any economic crisis. The United States government can help its citizens create growth by making it easier to do business at home and abroad. For example, a zero-tariff agreement with the European Union would substantially increase in total trade and an enormous jump in our exports
to Europe. It is true that tariffs between the U.S. and our European partners are low; however, transatlantic trade is so important to economies on both sides of the Atlantic that dropping tariffs by just a few percentage points, to zero, would allow U.S. exports to increase by tens of billions of dollars. Accordingly, some estimate that we could see upwards of 300,000 jobs created through just the goods portion of such an agreement.

Opportunities exist outside of the European Union as well. Russia presents one such opportunity. From 2005 -- 2010, my fellow Hoosiers increased their exports of goods to Russia by more than 2.5 times. Russia will join the WTO this summer. The increased trade that Russia's WTO membership will allow could support upwards of 50,000 new jobs within five years. In the current economic climate, we cannot ignore such an opportunity to create jobs.
At the same time, we must preserve U.S. support for democracy and human rights. As I am sure everyone in this room knows, it is Congress' decision to graduate Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, and grant Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations. Such action is required in order for U.S. companies to reap the benefits of Russia's WTO membership. There is great debate as to what action Congress should take. I am concerned about the timing of a repeal and what an alternative to Jackson-Vanik would entail. However, we must also recognize that Jackson-Vanik is now largely symbolic. For almost two decades, the President has waived Jackson-Vanik and granted Russia normal trade relations under the "full compliance" provision of the Amendment. Regardless, if Congress decides to graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik, we must maintain our support for democracy and human rights through a modern, functional replacement that recognizes the current situation in Russia.

Turkey presents another opportunity for greater economic cooperation. Between 2005 and 2010, Turkey's GDP grew an average of 4 percent as the country's economy diversified.

This progress continues. In a few weeks, Turkey will receive final bids for a third bridge connecting Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus straight. This project is emblematic of the tens of billions of dollars that Turkey will invest into highways and other infrastructure in the coming years as its economy continues to grow and diversify. In addition to supporting further
economic growth with Turkey, such developments will leave Turkey better prepared to serve as the gateway for western companies who wish to do business in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Unfortunately, we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to international trade.

The U.S. must be able to move swiftly and decisively in a fast moving global market. We have failed to do so recently. Trade deals with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama lingered for several years. As Congress proved by changing the rules when President Bush sent to Congress the Colombia agreement, fast-track authority is no longer viable. Currently, the U.S. is only participating in one ongoing negotiation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The United States is not involved in any of the 26 regional trade agreements listed by the World Trade Organization as being under negotiation.

The people of the United States deserve better. This government, both the
Administration and Congress, must get serious. We must improve this government's capability to help business and increase exports. If we cannot outpace our competitors, we cede to them the enormous advantage that comes with being the world's largest economic power. This is not acceptable.


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