April 26, 2006 Committee on Small Business Hearing
Cutting Our Trade Deficit: Can the U.S. Muster
Its Diverse Trade Promotion Operations to Make an Impact?

Opening Remarks of Chairman Donald A. Manzullo and
Witness Testimony

Good afternoon, I am pleased to open this hearing on the important topic of trade promotion and the extent to which the diverse U.S. programs can be coordinated to materially enhance small business exports, which offer a key tool to help reduce our trade deficit.

I welcome our seven witnesses, who bring real practical experience to addressing this question of how we can do a better job at trade promotion.

With the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services running approximately $65 billion or more per month, so far in 2006, the U.S. is well on its way to break the 2005 record annual trade deficit of $724 billion. So far this year, through the end of February, the accumulated U.S. trade deficit with China, alone, is somewhat worse, totaling $31.75 billion, up $2.63 billion from the same period in 2005.

Equally threatening is the U.S. dependence on the inflow of foreign capital to finance these deficits through the purchase of Federal debt instruments, which in turn lend support for a strong dollar that continues this deficit to debt cycle.

Congress, in the Export Enhancement Act of 1992, established the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) with two main purposes:

--Providing a unifying framework to coordinate the export promotion and export financing activities of the U.S. Government; and

--Developing a government-wide strategic plan for carrying out federal export promotion and export financing programs.

Two of the key duties assigned the TPCC were to:

--Assess the appropriate levels and allocation of resources among agencies in support of export promotion and export financing and provide recommendations to the President…and

--Coordinate official trade promotion efforts to ensure better delivery of services to U.S. businesses.

Over the past 14 years, TPCC has had mixed results in fulfilling its Congressional mandates. Without clear budgetary influence or a strong will to exert oversight authority of the numerous federal entities that make up its members, currently totaling 21, the TPCC’s impact on unifying the diverse U.S. trade promotion and finance operations has been negligible.

Our trading partners are well organized and effectively market their small businesses in the expanding global markets, particularly in China. With small businesses offering the best prospect to boost export growth, we need to redouble our efforts to help them achieve this goal.

It is time the U.S. put some order into its federal trade promotion and financing operations through strengthening the TPCC by:

--Elevating the TPCC to an Executive Office of the President level operation;

--Providing TPCC with budgetary input authority over the federal trade promotion and finance operations;

--Staffing TPCC directly or through detailed assignments to effectively perform oversight of the U.S. trade operations; and

--Linking the National Export Strategy with verifiable performance benchmarks to the annual federal budget submission.

I now yield for an opening statement from the ranking minority Member, Representative Velázquez of New York.

Return to the Trade Desk.