by John Neuffer, President and CEO
On Friday night, the U.S. Senate approved bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority legislation that would foster free trade, promote job creation, and spur growth in the semiconductor industry and throughout the U.S. economy. SIA applauds the Senate for passing this much-needed legislation and urges the House of Representatives to move quickly to do the same.
The legislation was introduced in April 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.), and would empower U.S. trade negotiators to reach final agreements consistent with negotiating objectives laid out by Congress. It would also make our trading partners more likely to negotiate freely with the assurance that final agreements may be voted on by Congress without amendment.
Recent polling shows public support for free trade is higher than it’s been in 15 years. That’s because Americans recognize free trade is critical to the U.S. economy, helping to spread innovation and commerce globally. The U.S. semiconductor industry is particularly dependent on free trade because our companies rely heavily on a global network of materials and equipment suppliers, R&D providers, customers, and other stakeholders.
In 2014, U.S. semiconductor company sales totaled $173 billion, representing over half the global semiconductor market. Eighty-two percent of those sales were to customers outside the United States. The U.S. semiconductor industry directly employs nearly 250,000 people in this country and supports more than 1 million additional U.S. jobs. Since a lion’s share 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 existed for passage of 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 the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). These important trade agreements would result in billions of dollars in global trade in semiconductor products and will enable the United States to help write the rules for 21st Century trade. Without TPA, these agreements may never see the light of day.
We commend Senate approval of TPA and urge the House to quickly follow suit. Enacting this legislation will promote growth and innovation in the semiconductor industry, the U.S. economy, and the global economy.
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