Mr. MEEKS. Mr. Speaker, I rise to bring to the attention of my colleagues an important matter for the U.S. economy: Services. I am pleased that there have been several important discussions this week on the topic of the U.S. services sector. This week the Coalition of Service Industries hosted the Global Services Summit, the Global Services Coalition met, and House Ways and Means held a hearing on the benefits of expanding U.S. services trade through an International Services Agreement.
As co-chair of the Congressional Services Caucus, I hope my colleagues will join me and the 63 members of the caucus as we continue to push for greater awareness of the importance of the services industry to our nation's economic wellbeing. Services make up the majority of the workforce in every congressional district.
Services jobs accounted for over 83 percent of U.S. private sector employment, and U.S. services exports in 2011 reached $588 billion with a surplus of $193.5 billion--a new annual record. We have a good story to tell.
Congress must be on the forefront in the effort to break down barriers and increase market access for the services sector. We cannot relent until this sector gets the respect it deserves at the WTO, in bilateral and multilateral agreements and beyond.
I know that in my hometown, New York City, services are the lifeblood of the economy. Services in our city account for the bulk of private sector employment, and financial services are particularly critical. The strength of New York's services industry isn't just a benefit to New York. There is a multiplier effect in the U.S., and globally. We know that other sectors like manufacturing and agriculture benefit when the services industry is strong. We also know that nations with whom we are interdependent benefit when the services industry is strong.
One of the best champions for U.S. services is Bob Vastine. Bob Vastine was president of the Coalition of Service Industries for 16 years. This week marked the passing of the torch from Bob to Peter Allgeier who has been a champion for U.S. trade in his own right. Peter and the team at CSI are great partners in the Congressional Services Caucus' mission to raise awareness about the critical issues that impact the services sector.
The work of CSI was on display this week during the Global Services Summit. The entire lineup was on the pulse of the issues we are considering in Congress. TPP, the EU-US high level working group, cross border trade, restrictions on services trade--India--China--all right on the pulse. I commend CSI, the Global Services Coalition, and my colleagues on Ways and Means for making this a great week for U.S. services.
I wish my friend Bob Vastine best of luck in his future endeavors. I'm confident that whatever they may be, they will encompass his passion and commitment to advancing the U.S. services sector and in so doing advance us all. Godspeed.