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Statement of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk at the OECD Ministerial Session on "Trade -- Toward a More Open Trading System and Job-Rich Growth"

*As Delivered*

“The United States is strongly committed to the OECD’s shared values of open markets and the rule of law, which are critical ingredients for fighting protectionism and maintaining a dynamic multilateral trading system.

“The United States also strongly believes that the governance and decision-making framework of the OECD, whereby the Member-driven Committees approve documents, recommendations and decisions before they are sent to Council, imparts a legitimacy to OECD work-products that needs to be maintained.

“The OECD Trade Committee, for example, has produced high-quality analytical work on the interlinkages between trade and jobs and growth.

“One such report I had the pleasure to participate in was yesterday’s book launch for the International Collaborative Initiative on Trade and Employment. We had a helpful discussion about the complex relationship between trade and jobs.

“Trade openness, when combined with complementary policies, can support job creation, better wages, and inclusive economic growth.

“At the same time, policies that promote growth can result in some workers being displaced from their current employment, and these workers may have difficulty accessing new job opportunities.

“As governments, it is our responsibility to demonstrate, through complementary policy actions, that we are addressing the problems that workers may have moving to new jobs.

“In the United States, we have done so through a tool we call Trade Adjustment Assistance, which provides U.S. workers who are adversely affected by trade with the opportunity to obtain the skills, resources, and support they need to become reemployed.

“We believe such policies allow us to do a better job of credibly communicating how trade can make positive contributions to our citizens’ day-to-day lives.

“Protectionism inhibits growth, and we must remain vigilant in our fight against it. In addition to the regular monitoring by the WTO, OECD and UNCTAD, we need to make better use of the WTO Committee structure to raise and address implementation issues when they arise.

“Given the growing body of evidence on how trade operates in the 21st century, with global supply chains crisscrossing countries in various stages of development, trade barriers are increasingly detrimental to that process.

“The reality of our interconnectedness in fact is central to our interest in pursuing additional work on goods and services liberalization.

“This is one of the reasons the United States feels as strongly as we do about the need to take the opportunity in front of us to expand the Information Technology Agreement. It’s still an area where high tariffs are keeping some countries out of the global production chain.

“The United States and other Members are also exploring the concept of an international services agreement. We believe there are tremendous benefits that can be shared by expanding services market access and developing new, internationally agreed rules and standards.

“Similarly, trade facilitation is an area with huge potential to help developing countries integrate into global supply chains as well as attracting investment and advancing development.

“We need to keep pursuing work in the WTO on these and other areas where progress can be achieved in the near future.

“The work of the OECD can complement these efforts by helping us better understand the sequence of value-added activity and can illustrate how production chains operate.

“The OECD’s work on global value chains, export restrictions and a services trade restrictiveness index will provide a deeper understanding of global trade flows, and we encourage broad participation of all key economies in these projects.

“Thank you.”