by John Neuffer, President and CEO
This week, House and Senate committees are considering the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015), legislation that would enable free trade agreements, strengthen the U.S. semiconductor industry, and promote job creation and growth throughout the U.S. economy. The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill late yesterday with bipartisan support, and the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on it today. SIA strongly supports this legislation and urges Committee members to approve it.
TPA-2015, introduced last week by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would empower U.S. trade negotiators to reach final agreements consistent with negotiating objectives laid out by Congress. If TPA-2015 is enacted, our trading partners would be more likely to negotiate freely with the assurance that final agreements may be voted on by Congress without amendment.
Free trade is critical to the American economy, enabling the spread of innovation and commerce globally. Trade is especially important to the U.S. semiconductor industry, which relies on a global ecosystem of materials and equipment suppliers, technology providers, services, R&D, and customers. In 2014, U.S. semiconductor company sales totaled $173 billion, representing over half the global market, and 82 percent of those sales were to customers outside the United States. Additionally, the semiconductor industry directly employs nearly 250,000 people in high-skilled, high-wage jobs in America. Since most of the U.S. semiconductor industry’s customers are abroad, free trade is critical to creating and supporting these American jobs.
Trade Promotion Authority has enabled nearly every U.S. free trade agreement in existence, but it expired in 2007. The United States is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and a WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) – important trade agreements that would result in billions of dollars in global trade of semiconductor products. Without TPA, these agreements may never see the light of day. Congress should swiftly enact TPA-2015 to promote growth and innovation in the semiconductor industry and throughout our economy.
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