Canadian Ambassador Doer and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Brady Discuss U.S.-Canada Relationship at Ripon Society Breakfast on Feb. 16th

Brady also outlines Subcommittee agenda for the coming year, calling pending trade agreements “one of the few areas of bipartisan work we can do together in Congress and create jobs.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Less than two weeks after President Barack Obama met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss the U.S.-Canada relationship, The Ripon Society hosted its own summit of sorts, a February 16th breakfast briefing that looked at the key challenges facing both countries and featured two men who are leading the effort to meet these challenges head-on – Gary Doer, the Canadian Ambassador to the United States, and Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), the Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade.

“We very much see our relationship with the United States as a team approach,” Ambassador Doer said. “Prime Minister Harper stated just a few months ago that a threat to the United States is a threat to Canada, and a threat to Canada is a threat to the United States. So we approach all of these international issues and domestic terror issues as one body.

“We know that part of our trade relationship — and the vision of that trade relationship — is going to be helped by investments in infrastructure. The more we can invest in infrastructure, the less bottled up we are going to be in the movements of goods and services across our two countries. The biggest border crossing is the Detroit-Windsor corridor, and we are working together with the new Governor of Michigan and with the people of that State to try to build a second crossing. 1.3 million Canadians a year go to Michigan, and we will try to continue that two-way trade. But trade has to be effective. We have to have trade policies that make sense.”

“We are your biggest customer,” he added. “We buy more things from the United States than the whole European Union. And we buy three times more goods from United States companies and suppliers than China. We buy more stuff than any other country and that’s very important for jobs in both our countries in terms of trade … 25 million Canadians visit the United States a year — 25 million visits for a country of 34 million people. We travel a lot.”

Doer also discussed the importance of energy security in the U.S.-Canada relationship, and the fact that the United States gets most of its oil from its neighbor to the north. He also touted the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project that, he noted, would not only reduce America’s dependence on oil from the Middle East, but create 30,000 U.S. jobs in the process.

Doer concluded his remarks by summarizing the bonds that, he believes, cement the U.S.-Canada relationship.

“We’re together as one team in NORAD. We’re together as one team in the intelligence community. We’re together with you on Iran. We are together with you on Afghanistan. We’re together with you on trade and currency in China. We are your biggest customer. We are your biggest supplier of tourists. We are your most reliable supplier of oil. We just believe that the message is that we have to keep working together as two great friends and neighbors.”

In his remarks, Congressman Brady echoed Doer’s statement about the strength of the U.S.-Canada bond. “Canada’s such an important partner in so many ways for the U.S.,” he observed. “It’s not only that we do more than a half a trillion dollars of business across our borders each year. It is that you are such a staunch ally.” Speaking directly to the Ambassador, Brady added: “Thanks for your leadership. I know you have to endure every four years the bashing of NAFTA and Canada and Mexico. But the truth is, that’s been a job-creating pact for America. Now, we need to do more of it.”

Brady, who represents the 8th District of Texas in Congress and will play a pivotal role in shaping U.S. trade policy in his position as Chairman of the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Trade, then proceeded to outline his views on trade issues and his agenda for the Subcommittee this year.

“With 14 million people out of work, we ought to be looking for ways we can create jobs,” he stated. “And the best way we can do it is to find new customers throughout the world. As I often say — it’s not enough simply to buy American. We have to sell American in every corner of this globe. The challenge obviously is to get America back on the trade field — back competing to win. And we’re determined to do that. Elections have consequences. Republicans in the House are going to have a very aggressive trade agenda focused around three goals.

“The first is finding new customers — opening markets and leveling the playing field for our businesses, our farmers and our workers. Secondly, trade facilitation — moving goods and services better, cheaper, faster around the world. America, I think, ranks 20th in the world in moving goods and services efficiently in a timely manner across borders. There’s no reason we ought not be number one on that. That’s the second focus for us. And third, resisting protectionism — both here and abroad. Abroad, because we’re finding that in almost every region, especially in the Asian Pacific, we’re seeing a number of very subtle trade barriers going up — not maybe at the national level, but at the provincial and local levels — that are really causing our industries problems trying to access those markets.”

“Our priority obviously is passing through pending free trade agreements. It’s $10 billion of new sales to Korea, Panama and Colombia. Korea’s a huge market, and not just huge — it matches up well against what we sell. Plus, we need to be deeper into that growing dynamic in the Asian Pacific region. We need to be in China’s backyard competing. And so a Korea agreement is critical for us.”

With regard to the pending trade agreement with Panama, Brady observed that, “Panama’s service economy matches up beautifully with ours.” As for the trade pact with Colombia, Brady was blunt:

“Frankly, it is absolutely embarrassing that we have not completed this trade agreement. It is a major foreign relations blunder on the U.S. part. Every day we delay we lose market share in Colombia, as Canada, the EU, China, and others move very aggressively into those economies that are the most dynamic in Latin America. We’re falling behind in any number of areas. So our focus is going to be on insisting that those three agreements come to the House in the first six months of this year. I have strongly advised the White House to not send Korea up by itself. It will destroy any chance of bipartisan work together on these agreements. That’s an important agreement for us. After the number of years we’ve sat waiting for movement on Panama and Colombia, we need to see that move now. And my belief is that closing out Panama and Colombia should be an issue of weeks, not months or even the end of the year. They need to move together, because we have other markets we need to open.”

Brady also outlined his views on some other key issues facing the Trade Subcommittee this year, including:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership – “The Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Asian Pacific region is important to us for a number of reasons,” he stated. “President Obama is really putting a mark on each of the three pending agreements, but the TPP is the first real initiative on his part. We’re hopeful that they can finish the agreement by the time we host APEC in November. If not, to push as hard as we can to move that forward. TPP’s an opportunity — not just a growing market, but an opportunity to create a state-of-the-art agreement with very high standards; to go beyond the borders, to tear down barriers within those countries, and to sort of create a plug-and-play trade agreement, whereas if countries in that region meet those standards, they can plug into it, access that market and make it even more meaningful. So we’ve still got some challenges on that agreement, but it’s got real importance to us here in the United States.”

NAFTA and other existing trade agreements – “We’re going to work with the Administration to aggressively enforce our rights in our existing trade agreements,” Brady stated. “We’re going to push the Administration to comply with our obligations with NAFTA, Buy America and other provisions. This is a bipartisan issue. We have the opportunity to work with Democrats both in a Customs Reauthorization Bill and some other areas to be able again to improve our standing as a country, and how we move goods and services forward and also work with our trading partners to figure out how we can do that, as well. The more we listen to this issue, the more convinced I am that there are some good things that we can do. We’ve got a lot of unfinished business from last year. The Andean Trade Preferences Act, which is so important to Colombia especially, is expiring or has expired. Trade Adjustment Assistance, as you know, we ran into some problems moving it out of the House floor last week, so that’s a challenge.”

China – “House Republicans see China in a different way,” he observed. “In the past few years, Congress has looked at it only through the lens of currency issues. There are much broader issues in China that we are willing to work on in areas from indigenous innovation to subsidies, directed lending, rare Earth materials, on and on and on. A number of, again, pretty subtle trade barriers exist at the provincial and local levels. We’re going to press China to become a more responsible stakeholder — to live up to their obligations. And we’re going to press them on currency, no question about it. But we’re also going to press our own Administration to resume talks on a bilateral investment treaty, because we think we can deal with some of the intellectual property rights and other issues in that arena. It was encouraging to see them delink procurement from innovation technology in the recent visit from China’s president. But we have to follow through to make sure that goes all the way down to the local level.”

Russia – “We’ve always encouraged them to move into the global rules-based trading system,” Brady stated. “They’ve gotten serious the last year and a half. They’ve still got a lot of work to do before they live up to their obligations, particularly on intellectual property rights and on ag market access. At some point, when they close that out, it’ll be coming to a vote in Congress. Again, we are pushing to have all three pending agreements finished before the Russia issue gets on the table because, as opposed to the other agreements where security issues and others work for us in passing this, I think it’s going to be a challenge with Russia. Members of Congress are going to have a lot of issues that they bring — beyond trade, beyond Jackson-Vanik — into that debate. So there’s going to be a lot of work to do before we get to that point.”

Brady concluded his remarks by saying that he was “kind of encouraged” by the current direction of U.S. trade policy. But, adding a note of caution, he also observed:

“We’ve been off the trade field. We benched ourself as a country effectively for four years — moreso the last two. Our competitors are moving by us. They didn’t leave the field — they’re still competing. And they’ve cut literally hundreds of trade agreements that put us at a severe disadvantage. We have to get back on that field and compete to win. I’m convinced we can. I like our U.S. Trade Ambassador, Ron Kirk, and I see more support growing for these agreements within the Cabinet from Secretary Gates, from Clinton, from Tim Geithner, to Gary Locke, the new White House Chief of Staff, Bill Daley.

“I think we need to keep the pressure on for them to move those agreements now. I think this may be one of the few areas of bipartisan work we can do together in Congress and create jobs — a no-cost stimulus, literally, in trade.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.