Over the last four years, we have updated our trade relationships and trade agreements at a historic pace. We secured updated comprehensive trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, and South Korea; entered into Phase One agreements with China and Japan that address many significant impediments to U.S. exporters in these major markets; and achieved important progress to remove trade barriers faced by particular sectors in several other countries. Together, these nations purchase almost 50 percent of the United States’ current exports. These agreements facilitated increased opportunities and fairer treatment for American producers and consumers struggling during the pandemic, and they are important platforms to open additional opportunities for U.S. exporters in the future. In part as a result of these agreements, we have seen exports increase 27 percent from the May low. While these agreements continue to bear fruit, it is vital we treat them as the first steps of a long journey toward more open markets and equitable treatment for U.S. goods and services, not an excuse to relax when there is so much more work to be done.

While the President is empowered to conduct U.S. foreign policy and has been delegated authority to address some trade issues through executive action, our Constitution empowers Congress to write and pass trade policy. First on Congress’ agenda must be reauthorizing the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) – two key programs which improve our competitiveness. Both programs will expire at the end of the year absent prompt action by Congress. Renewing these programs, which have enjoyed bipartisan support, will reduce costs and uncertainty for American businesses as they continue to grapple with the effects of COVID.

GSP benefits all Americans by promoting economic growth in developing countries while also providing a tool for the U.S. to encourage good practices like protecting intellectual property, providing reasonable market access to U.S. exports, and treating U.S. investors fairly. Letting GSP lapse would raise the average tariff by 3.5 percent for small businesses in Nebraska while decreasing our leverage to ensure developing nations are raising standards and playing fairly in the global marketplace.

MTB allows for a process to waive tariffs on inputs for domestic manufacturing which cannot be sourced domestically. This helps our manufacturers and promotes American competitiveness. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, renewal of a comprehensive MTB by the end of this year could eliminate more than $1.5 billion worth of tariffs on products not made or available in the U.S. That is money which U.S. manufacturers can invest in their facilities and workforce.

We also know American businesses and agriculture depend on foreign markets to grow. President Trump understands that and has made it a priority by negotiating and signing the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA), and Phase One deals with China and Japan. His administration also is making significant headway in comprehensive negotiations with the United Kingdom and Kenya, and has agreed to mini deals which address barriers we face in other markets. As a result, entire sectors of the U.S. economy, including agriculture, gained access to markets they had been barred from for years.

The significant progress we made in the past four years should be a blueprint for future trade opportunities that benefit American businesses, agriculture, and consumers. Moving forward, we need to continue the outstanding work President Trump and his administration have done on trade. We must take advantage of this momentum and not leave anything on the table. Through my position on the Ways and Means Committee, I will always continue searching for new markets for Nebraska products and pushing to reduce barriers our exporters face in foreign markets so U.S. farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers can compete and win around the world.

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