WASHINGTON, D.C. – House DemocraticWhip Steny Hoyer (MD) today released the following statement in support of the United States-Singapore/Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Acts:
“Mr. Speaker, today, I will vote for both the Singapore and Chile Free Trade Agreements, our first such agreements with Asian and South American countries, and part of a larger, long-term strategy to negotiate trade agreements that expand U.S. access to overseas markets.
“In general, I have been a very strong advocate for free trade and open markets because I believe that American businesses and workers can compete and win in the global economy. Furthermore, I believe that increasing global interdependence is an undeniable reality in this 21st century, and that it presents our nation with an opportunity to promote democratic reform, the rule of law and respect for basic human rights.
“International engagement and global trade are our rich tradition – from FDR’s conception of a global trading system to Harry Truman’s development of the institutions and policies of the general agreement on tariffs and trade.
“Nearly 58 years ago, President Truman stated (and I quote): ‘We believe that full economic collaboration between all nations, great and small, is essential to the improvement of living conditions all over the world, and to the establishment of freedom from fear and freedom from want.’
“Mr. Speaker, the United States is the most powerful nation in the world – militarily, politically, and economically. And it is incumbent upon us to lead, to foster global trade, to engage our partners in a system based on rules and law, and to work to raise the living standards of working men and women – not to recoil from the rest of the world.
“That approach, in my judgment, would be a monumental mistake for our nation and would do far more harm than good. The specific agreements that we consider today are consistent with our values and long history on global trade. They will eliminate all remaining barriers to the markets of Singapore and Chile, with whom we enjoy nearly $40 billion in annual trade.
“Improved access to these markets will benefit American companies and their employees, ranging from aircraft manufacturers and automakers to medical equipment suppliers and agricultural producers. Additionally, U.S. telecommunications, computer services and financial firms are among the many that will benefit from substantial service sector market access commitments made by Chile and Singapore.
“Both agreements also provide significant intellectual property rights protections for American software designers and the entertainment industry. Let me stress, however, that while I support these trade agreements and free trade in general, we must scrutinize future agreements on their individual merit.
“The centrality of free trade in our interdependent world cannot, and must not, relegate our commitment to working men and women in this country and elsewhere to the periphery. In short, we must seek to provide a level playing field for American workers and improved living and working conditions for foreign workers by striving to ensure fair wages and basic workplace protections.
“I am confident that these goals will be met with respect to Chile and Singapore. But I believe we must consider future trade agreements one at a time, taking into consideration the specific labor and environmental conditions that exist in the countries we seek to trade with, as well as the provisions included in the agreements to protect workers and environmental concerns.
“For example, I urge the administration to negotiate strong labor provisions in the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Specifically, I urge that the CAFTA agreement contain a fully enforceable commitment for signatories to adopt and enforce in their laws internationally recognized core labor standards.
“The agreements we consider today stand on their own based on the circumstances as we find them today in Chile and Singapore. And thus I support them.”