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CEA Takes Pro-Trade Economic Message To The American People


Nationwide Grassroots Educational Tour Highlights Importance of Trade to U.S. Economy and Jobs
Arlington, Virginia

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® today launched a new nationwide grassroots educational initiative to help all Americans understand the importance of trade to creating jobs and driving U.S. economic growth. The cornerstone of this effort, the 28-state “America Wins with Trade” bus tour, launches today in New York City. New Your City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, J&R Music and Computer World CEO Rachelle Friedman and other dignitaries will help kick off the tour at J&R’s Manhattan store.

With Americans’ support for international trade ebbing, CEA is engaging in this national effort to highlight the importance of trade to American companies and most importantly, American workers. The bus tour will then make its way south to Washington, DC for a pro-trade rally and press conference on July 24 on Capitol Hill. CEA has called on Congress to reject isolationism and enact trade agreements that expand the economy and create American jobs.

"Trade isn’t just vital to our companies and our industry, it is essential to preserving America’s prosperity and way of life. Our political leaders have told us to make the case to the American people why trade is vital to our nation’s future, so we are launching this nationwide effort,” said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “It is fitting that we start our 28-state tour in our nation’s financial capital, New York City, which represents the power of trade and free markets.”

After decades of America believing it can compete and win in global markets, a disturbing trend, spurred on by fear-mongering commentators, has led some to turn against trade. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that for the first time a majority of Americans view foreign trade as a threat to the economy.

“The facts demonstrate that trade creates millions of American jobs and provides billions of dollars to our economy. When America competes in the global marketplace, our nation’s economy and workers win,” said Shapiro. “The success of our consumer electronics industry in the United States and around the world is proof that the fear-mongerers and naysayers are wrong about trade. It’s vital that we take this message to the people.”

Spurred by trade, the consumer electronics industry is projected to generate $1.4 trillion in direct business activity this year and directly employ more than 4.4 million Americans. Trade plays a critical role in the industry’s health – for example one in seven of those jobs, or about 616,000 jobs, is directly tied to America’s trade overseas.

Of CEA’s 2,300 members, 80 percent are small and mid-sized companies with revenues of $30 million or less. For companies of this size in particular, trade is crucial for business growth and domestic job creation.

CEA has called on Congress to pursue a pro-growth trade policy that includes:

* Aggressively pursuing bilateral trade agreements. In the absence of an agreement in the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO), bilateral trade agreements offer the next best way to open foreign markets to U.S. small businesses. Trade agreements create sales opportunities, reduce costs and diminish uncertainties. Through trade agreements we can implement intellectual property rights standards, establish substantive investment protections and provide increased transparency to U.S. exporters. Currently, CEA urges Congress to pass the Colombia, Panama and Korea Free Trade Agreements.

* Reauthorize trade promotion authority. Without trade promotion authority our trading partners will be reluctant to negotiate trade pacts with the U.S. America’s hands will be tied, and the U.S. will fall behind other nations negotiating trade agreements at an unprecedented pace.

* Eliminate non-tariff barriers. Non-tariff barriers hinder trade and burden small companies with unnecessary compliance costs. Examples of these barriers include cumbersome customs regulations, corrupt government procurement processes, and most recently, a proliferation of divergent or non-harmonized approaches to environmental standards, among others.

* Uphold and enforce trade agreements. In addition to pursuing new agreements, the U.S. must commit to maintaining and enforcing those agreements already in place. The U.S. must take an aggressive stance to protect products already covered by the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The ITA covers over 97 percent of the world trade in information technology products, and provides for the elimination of duties on those covered products. But as technology has evolved, many countries claim that the ITA does not apply to the next generation of covered products. It is crucial for the United States to uphold provisions of the ITA that allow for future developments of IT products and enable companies to enjoy the full scope of the agreements intended duty-free benefits.


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