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Baucus to Head to Japan, New Zealand to Promote U.S. Exports, Strengthen Job-Creating Trade Ties

17 Aug 2012 4:39 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

During Weeklong Trade Mission, Finance Chairman Will Meet with Prime Ministers, Trade and Economic Leaders, Discuss Trans-Pacific Partnership

Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will depart for New Zealand and Japan tomorrow to meet with senior economic and trade leaders and discuss key issues surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement (FTA), which will create American jobs and benefits U.S. businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers. Senator Baucus’s meetings will take place in Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand and Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan.

“The Asia Pacific region will drive the next wave of economic growth, so we have to strengthen our trade ties with countries like Japan and New Zealand to stay competitive. Every bit of ground we gain boosting our exports means new jobs in the U.S.,” Senator Baucus said. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a window of opportunity for our exports to reach new consumers in markets across the Pacific. Through the TPP, we can help ensure our trading partners play by the rules and open their markets to American exports. A high-standard TPP agreement that works for the U.S. will create jobs at home and further strengthen our role as a leader in the global economy.”

While in New Zealand, Senator Baucus will meet with Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser, among other political leaders, to discuss the progress of TPP negotiations and pursue trade opportunities for American businesses that would create additional U.S. jobs. Senator Baucus will also tour the Mokai geothermal power plant. The Mokai facility is New Zealand's largest privately developed geothermal project. The U.S. is New Zealand’s third-largest trading partner; U.S. exports to New Zealand totaled $4.4 billion in 2010. Major U.S. exports to New Zealand include aircraft, automobiles, medical devices and petroleum products.

In Japan, Senator Baucus will meet with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Economic and Trade Minister Yukido Edano to seek expanded access for U.S. exports. Senator Baucus will also discuss the possibility of Japan joining the TPP negotiations in the future. He will also tour a Tesla Motors facility that will sell electric automobiles made in the U.S. and exported to Japan. Japan is the world’s third largest economy, and U.S. exports to Japan totaled $113 billion in 2011. The main U.S. exports to Japan include chemicals, pharmaceutical goods, films and music, commercial aircraft, nonferrous metals, plastics and medical and scientific supplies.

In 2009, Senator Baucus pushed the administration to reaffirm the United States’ role as a robust partner in the TPP negotiations, and he has continually called for the agreement to strengthen U.S. job-creating trade ties and include high-level standards for labor issues, environmental standards and intellectual property protection. In 2011, with Japan, Mexico and Canada announcing their interest in joining the TPP negotiations, Senator Baucus said each country must be ready to quickly accept the TPP’s high-standard commitments. Mexico and Canada will likely join the TPP this fall after congressional consultations conclude. If Japan also joins the TPP, the total number of consumers across TPP countries would grow by 50 percent, and the participating countries would represent more than 40 percent of global GDP.

Senator Baucus last traveled to Japan in 2004 to explore the opportunity for expanded trade with the U.S. More recently, he traveled to Russia in February to pursue export opportunities and discuss the U.S. establishing permanent normal trade relations with Russia (the Finance Committee passed his PNTR bill in July 2012). In early 2011, Baucus led a trade mission to Colombia and Brazil to promote U.S. exports and prepare for the debate over the FTA with Colombia that had not yet been approved at that point. Senator Baucus traveled to China in late 2010 to push China’s leaders on their currency undervaluation and boost American competitiveness.

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