Portman, Cardin Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Supporting U.S. Leadership at, and Reform of, the World Trade Organization

March 9, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced a bipartisan resolution expressing support for U.S. leadership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) while also calling for reform to parts of the institution. The resolution describes the long history of productive American leadership at the WTO, as well as the ways in which the WTO has failed to address new trade barriers and market distortions by countries like China. The resolution also offers specific reform proposals of the WTO including (1) expanding the use of multi-national trade agreements between countries to ensure that only countries party to the trade agreement get the benefits of membership; (2) restoring the intended meaning to trade remedy provisions that, thanks to the WTO’s judicial activism, have limited the ability of the United States to crack down on foreign trade cheats; (3) beefing up rules against currency manipulation; and (4) creating new rules to discipline subsidies and state-owned enterprises.

 “As a former U.S. Trade Representative, I understand the value and usefulness of the United States’ involvement in the WTO,” said Portman. “However, there has been a consistent bipartisan critique of certain aspects of the WTO, such as judicial activism of the Appellate Body and the lack of rules and norms that address non-market practices like forced technology transfer and industrial subsidies. By identifying the problem and suggesting some potential solutions, this bipartisan resolution is a start to addressing and fixing some of the shortcomings of the WTO in order to support American workers against unfair foreign trade practices and enhance the ability of American farmers, workers, and businesses to access foreign markets.”

“The United States, as the world’s largest economy, has responsibility to be a leader on the global stage. We must make every effort to create and maintain rules-based systems and advocate relentlessly to ensure stability, human rights, and economic development,” said Cardin. “The World Trade Organization is an important tool to engage with other international leaders to promote these fundamental ideals, but it is not without its shortcomings. Reforms must be pursued for the WTO to succeed in its mission of promoting a rules-based trading system. I look forward to working together with the WTO’s new leadership to take action.”

In February, Senator Portman raised WTO reform at the nomination hearing of Katherine Tai to be U.S. Trade Representative. Tai agreed with Senator Portman that the United States must continue to be engaged at the WTO while also leading efforts in favor of reform to ensure that the WTO works for its members.

 

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