USTR Susan Schwab and CEA President & CEO Gary Shapiro at International CES: Trade is vital to US economic growth and jobs

Reuters | 8 Jan 2008

USTR Susan Schwab and CEA President & CEO Gary Shapiro at International CES: Trade is Vital to U.S. Economic Growth and Jobs

LAS VEGAS—(Business Wire)—U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Consumer Electronics
Association (CEA) President and CEO Gary Shapiro today held a policy
briefing for media that focused on the importance of trade to U.S.
economic growth and new jobs.

The briefing took place on the official opening of the
International CES in Las Vegas, an unrivaled gathering that focuses on
the future of consumer electronics. Also, today, CEA joined with the
Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording
Industry Association of America (RIAA) to call on the congressional
leadership to advocate a strong trade agenda during the remainder of
the 110th Congressional Session.

"The United States is a major player both as an exporter and as an
importer. Together, we are talking about $800 billion in U.S. exports
and imports combined in a sector with global trade of over three
trillion dollars," Ambassador Schwab told reporters. "It is evident
from the participants (at CES) how incredibly important trade is,
whether they are manufacturing here, manufacturing abroad, designing
here, creating software, all of it moves in and around international
commerce, creating jobs, creating opportunities."

Asked about the free trade agreements pending before Congress, Mr.
Shapiro said the issue is about whether the United States will choose
to compete in a global marketplace. "We are talking about the future
of our country here. It’s not just a matter of money and trade; it’s
about the soul, direction and strategy that we employ as a country,"
said Mr. Shapiro told reporters. "We want to make sure we keep our
strategy of being a free-trading country that encourages imports and
exports because that is what made us great, and a great country does
not put up walls."

Mr. Shapiro cited trade statistics about the opportunities with
free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. From 2000
to 2006, U.S. consumer electronics exports increased 12 percent to
Peru, 35 percent to Columbia and 44 percent to Panama.

Last fall the CEA launched a new trade initiative to focus
Congress on the importance of trade to U.S. job creation in the
electronics industry. CEA called on Congress to pursue a pro-growth
trade policy that includes:

— Aggressively pursuing bilateral trade agreements. In the
absence of an agreement in the Doha Round of the World Trade
Organization, bilateral trade agreements offer the next best
way to open foreign markets to U.S. small businesses. They
create sales opportunities, reduce costs and diminish
uncertainties. Through trade agreements we can implement
intellectual property rights standards, establish substantive
investment protections, and provide increase transparency to
U.S. exporters.

— Reauthorize trade promotion authority. Without trade promotion
authority our trading partners will be reluctant to negotiate
trade pacts with the U.S. America’s hands will be tied and the
U.S. will fall behind other nations negotiating trade
agreements at an unprecedented pace.

— Eliminate non-tariff barriers. These non-tariff barriers
hinder trade and burden small companies with unnecessary
compliance costs. Examples of these barriers include
cumbersome customs regulations, corrupt government procurement
processes, and most recently, a proliferation of divergent or
non-harmonized approaches to environmental standards, among
others.

— Uphold and enforce trade agreements. In addition to pursuing
new agreements, the United States must commit to maintaining
and enforcing those agreements already in place. The United
States must take an aggressive stance to protect products
already covered by the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement
(ITA). The ITA covers over 97 percent of the world trade in
information technology products, and provides for the
elimination of duties on those covered products. But as
technology has evolved, many countries claim that the ITA does
not apply to the next generation of covered products. It is
crucial for the United States to uphold provisions of the ITA
that allow for future developments of IT products and enable
companies to enjoy the full scope of the agreements intended
duty-free benefits.

For more information on the letter sent to Congress and the CEA
trade initiative, please go to the CEA website at
www.ce.org/freetrade.

source: Reuters