WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today outlined the relationship between the economic crisis and U.S. positions on trade in a speech to the Washington International Trade Association (WITA). Brown called on President Obama to convene a blue ribbon commission on trade policy and for Government Accountability Office (GAO) to initiate a comprehensive review of our current trade agreements and their effects on the U.S. economy.
“If we’re going to turn our economy around, we need a fundamental shift in U.S. trade policy,” said Brown. “Years of broken trade policy have resulted in stagnant wages, rising income inequality, and a shrinking middle class. Broken trade policy contributed to the economic crisis, and it’s going to take a new direction in trade policy to rebuild our economy.”
Brown today outlined how an overhaul in the U.S. trade policy could provide critical solutions in our nation’s recovery strategy. He explained how a comprehensive investigation by the GAO would provide non-ideological, non-partisan analysis of what is working and what is not working in U.S. trade policy.
In calling for the creation of a blue ribbon commission on U.S. trade policy, Brown explained the need for evidence-based decision making on future trade policymaking. Brown also outlined the immediate need for stronger enforcement of U.S. trade policy and the reassertion of congressional oversight of trade policy.
Brown is the author of the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment (TRADE) Act. This legislation, which was first introduced in 2008 and endorsed by more than a dozen fair trade groups, is a first-of-its-kind, pro-trade bill that would revamp U.S. trade policy. The bill would mandate trade pact reviews, establish standards, protect workers in developing nations, and help restore congressional oversight of future trade agreements.
The TRADE ACT would:
• Require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a comprehensive review of existing trade agreements with an emphasis on economic results, enforcement and compliance, and an analysis of non-tariff provisions in trade agreements;
• Spell out standards for labor and environmental protections, food and product safety, national security exceptions, and remedies that must be included in new trade pacts;
• Set requirements with respect to public services, farm policy, investment, government procurement, and affordable medicines that have been incorporated in trade agreements;
• Require the president to submit renegotiation plans for current trade pacts prior to negotiating new agreements and prior to congressional consideration of pending agreements;
• Create a committee comprised of the chairs and ranking members of each committee whose jurisdiction is affected by trade agreements to review the president’s plan for renegotiations; and
• Restore Congressional oversight of trade agreements.
Brown led the bipartisan House opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement. He authored “Myths of Free Trade,” a book that provides a historical overview of trade policy and comprehensive prescriptions for trade policy overhaul.