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

July 2, 2020 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – 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. I am pleased that President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer have continued to pursue reforms to ensure a level playing field between the United States and the rest of the world. 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.”

“As the world’s largest economy, the United States 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 (WTO) is an important tool to engage with other international leaders to promote these fundamental ideals, but it is not without its shortcomings. We must work together to take action and pursue reforms at the WTO for it to succeed in its mission of promoting a rules-based trading system.”

NOTE: At a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing, Ambassador Lighthizer agreed with Senator Portman that WTO reform, especially within the Appellate Body, was necessary in order to put America on the same level playing field as the rest of the world.