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Murphy and Miller Lead Bipartisan Letter to USTR Urging Deeper Trade Ties between the U.S. and Indo-Pacific Nations

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Washington, April 12, 2022 | comments

WASHINGTON—U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Carol Miller, R-W.Va., members of the House Ways and Means Committee, led a bipartisan letter to Ambassador Katherine C. Tai, United States Trade Representative, urging support to deepen the United States’ economic and trade engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. The letter encourages Ambassador Tai to negotiate market access provisions through trade agreements with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific as swiftly as possible. Murphy and Miller were joined by Reps. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio., Ann Wagner, R-Mo., Darin LaHood, R-Ill., Ken Buck, R-Colo., Blake Moore, R-Utah., Young Kim, R-Calif., Steve Chabot, R-Ohio., and Gregory F. Murphy, R-N.C.  

The letter can be viewed HERE, with the full text appearing below:

Dear Ambassador Tai:

 As bipartisan Members of Congress who support deepening our economic and trade engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, we encourage you to negotiate market access provisions through trade agreements with friends and partners in the Indo-Pacific as swiftly as possible.

The Indo-Pacific accounts for $1.75 trillion in annual trade with the United States, receives 30 percent of U.S. goods and services exports, and supports millions of American jobs. More specifically, the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) constitute America’s 2nd largest export destination in Asia ($94 billion in 2021) and U.S.-ASEAN trade is expected to grow by 4 to 5 percent annually. These countries offer major opportunities for American-made goods and services.

The U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in 2017 led Asian governments to pursue several regional and bilateral preferential trade agreements without the United States. These agreements—including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), and a variety of digital economy agreements (DEAs)— have served to transform the Indo-Pacific’s regional trade and digital economy architecture. Meanwhile, America’s leading trade competitors outside of Asia—like the European Union, Canada, and Mexico—are strengthening their own economic engagement with nations in the Indo- Pacific.

These developments are generating two trends that the United States must address in order to support American workers, small businesses, and farmers. First, America’s limited participation in agreements or frameworks involving Indo-Pacific nations means that the next generation of commercial rules and standards governing trade with Asia are increasingly being written without American input. Second, American-made goods and services are at a competitive disadvantage because tariffs on U.S. exports to the Indo-Pacific are relatively higher than tariffs on our competitors’ exports to the region.

As you and Secretary Raimondo work with like-minded trade partners on items of shared interest in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, it is critically important that you protect the competitiveness of American products in this region by ensuring that these trends are reversed. To this end, we urge you to work to secure enhanced market access for American exporters in ASEAN Member States.

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