U.S. SENATE—U.S. Senator Steve Daines at a Senate Finance Committee hearing today questioned U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the administration’s actions to counter China’s growing intellectual property abuses and the importance of a robust trade agenda to Montana and America.
On the importance of trade for Montana farmers, ranchers, and small businesses:
Senator Daines: “Thanks for coming here today. I think about 95 percent of our world consumers live outside the United States and as a guy who represents a state where agriculture is the number one economic driver, it’s very important that we get market access for agriculture for the sake of our jobs. And I don’t think it could be overstated the important thing with the future of agriculture, Ambassador Tai, the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission recently published recommendations on how to counter China’s growing abuse of intellectual property. I think it’s stating the obvious here, but protecting American IP is something I’ve long fought for including introducing this bipartisan “Protecting IP Act” to give the USTR more tools so you can be more effective to push back against China’s abuse. I plan to reintroduce this bill to include some of USCC’s recent recommendations, you’ll be seeing that soon. The question is, what actions have you taken to implement USCC’s recommendations and how have you worked to counter China’s growing intellectual property abuses?
Ambassador Tai: “So, Senator Daines, I may need to brush up on the USCC mandate, but I know that the USCC unlike the other commission, is here to advise Congress as opposed to advising both the Congress and Executive. That said, I do stay apprised of this commission’s work and I deeply respect the, the diligence and the rigor that they bring to their work. In terms of intellectual property, this is actually the basis for the Section 301 action that the Trump administration took in 2018. And as you may know, we are currently undertaking an exercise at USTR, a comprehensive four-year review of the actions taken pursuant to that 301 with respect to how effective we have been in securing improvements and behavior, and that is something that we are doing right now.”
Senator Daines: “So, I do have a concern. The USTR is on enforcing some existing agreements and I’ll talk about this a moment here regarding Japan agreements that support U.S. companies, use U.S. products, U.S. intellectual property. In Japan, they’ll take antitrust action against American tech companies, but then they’ll support policies that crowd out competition for the United States, despite commitments that have been made in the Japan Digital Trade Agreement. We see this in the gaming market, where Japan appears to ignore some of these anti-competitive actions from Japanese companies, which suppress some of our major U.S. providers. I think this is a violation of its digital trade commitments, but yet we haven’t seen action from the USTR. And perhaps you can settle that here. Ambassador Tai, will you commit to raising this imbalance with Japan and commit to increasing enforcement in support of US companies and the gaming is one example.
Ambassador Tai: “Senator Daines, this is the second time this particular issue has come up in today’s hearing and so I’m sure that I have team members who are already working on this and pulling information for me. Let me take this back and learn more about it…”
On the Importance of the United States to Re-engag in the Transpacific Partnership:
Senator Daines: “And that’s a fair answer. And that’s one of the purposes of these hearings is to raise these issues and work together here to accomplish better outcomes here for U.S. companies. Lastly, I’ve called on President from both parties. This has been a bipartisan challenge, whether it’s been a Democrat President or Republican President, to re-engage in the Transpacific Partnership. I believe it’s a strategic, important direction we should head, both for economic benefits, but I think it’s also part of our strategy to counter China and Indo-Pacific region, as has been advancing alternative agreements without the United States. I’m concerned about the current administration’s lack of ambition as it relates to his trade agenda, and the absence of market access commitments, to as you said a few times level that playing field in increased opportunities, and I look through the lens you’re representing Montana for farmers, ranchers and small businesses. So this is a closing statement, won’t be a question, I just urge you to shift course. Prioritize reducing some of these unfair tariffs, other barriers to trade in IPF and produce and pursue some more ambitious trade agreements with partners around the world. I think it’s a great opportunity. You see it and thanks for being here today.”
Click HERE to watch and download Daines’ remarks.