WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) issued following statement today announcing his support for the US-Australian Free Trade Agreement:
“U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and Australian Minister of Trade Mark Vaile yesterday signed a Free Trade Agreement to enhance the already strong economic ties between our two countries. I support this agreement, and will vote in favor of the required implementing legislation. I anticipate this agreement will in fact enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress, and I urge House Speaker Hastert to schedule floor consideration of this implementing legislation in June.
“In general, I have advocated 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 presents our nation with an opportunity to promote democratic reform, the rule of law and respect for basic human rights.
“This pact has been called the 'Manufacturing FTA' because of the extent to which the U.S. manufacturing sector will benefit from the expanded market access provided by the agreement. Perhaps most importantly, more than 99 percent of remaining Australian duties on U.S. manufactured goods will be lifted the day the agreement takes effect.
“It is estimated that this immediate tariff elimination will result in an additional $2 billion in annual exports to Australia, already one of the world’s largest single markets for U.S. goods. This improved access will benefit American companies ranging from aircraft manufacturers to automakers to construction equipment suppliers.
“Additionally, U.S. telecommunications, computer services and financial firms are among the many who will benefit from substantial service sector market access commitments made by Australia. The agreement also provides significant intellectual property rights protections for American software designers and the entertainment industry.
“I have and will continue to support free trade agreements that strike the balance of expanding markets for American companies, while also providing a level playing field for American workers and improved living and working conditions for foreign workers by guaranteeing fair wages and basic workplace protections abroad. I am confident that these goals will be met with respect to Australia.
“I will 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 - both here and in the other countries - and environmental concerns. I will determine my position as those agreements are finalized.”