October 23, 2015

Corker, Cardin Introduce Global Gateways Trade Capacity Act

Improving U.S. Assistance to Expand Trade in Developing Countries

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced The Global Gateways Trade Capacity Act (S.2201), bipartisan legislation to improve the effectiveness of U.S. assistance for expanding trade in developing countries. Many countries face infrastructure and institutional limitations that prevent them from fulfilling trade commitments and opening their markets to the U.S. and the world. The Global Gateways Trade Capacity Act will improve coordination and accountability for existing U.S. trade capacity assistance to better identify and eliminate existing constraints for emerging economies. The legislation also will establish a five-year pilot program to assist qualifying developing countries with implementation of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

“Helping developing countries eliminate trade constraints will expand markets for U.S. businesses and support important policy goals,” said Senator Corker. “By working with the private sector, this legislation will allow us to deliver existing trade assistance in a more strategic and responsible manner. As more countries ratify agreements like the TFA, the world will reap the economic benefits from lower trade costs and higher incomes.”

“For developing countries, bureaucratic inefficiencies and border delays can unnecessarily impede economic growth. Borders can be notorious centers for corruption and wrongdoing, further denying upward economic mobility for developing nations and their citizens. Streamlined custom procedures are necessary and help ensure that even basic commodities such as food and medicine will be available to families in need, especially in developing countries,” said Senator Cardin. “Similarly, the United States has a responsibility to plan strategically, coordinate effectively across government agencies, and work harmoniously with the private sector to facilitate movement of U.S. goods on the international stage that can reach global markets without delays.”

The Global Gateways Trade Capacity Act of 2015 includes the following key provisions:

1)    Effective Interagency Coordination – Approximately $1 billion in annual trade capacity assistance is provided by as many as 28 different U.S. government entities without strategic planning or effective coordination. The bill directs the president to establish an interagency coordinating committee chaired by the Secretary of State that will be in charge of planning for U.S. trade assistance programs.

2)    Private Sector Input – The president is directed to create a private sector trade advisory committee that will provide advice on U.S. trade assistance.

3)    Biennial Strategic Plan – The interagency agency coordination committee must develop and submit to Congress a biennial joint strategic plan that seeks to improve coordination among agencies, enhance private sector consultation, identify impediments to effective trade assistance, set priorities to focus on the best value, establish performance measures and targets, and provide estimates for resources to achieve these objectives.

4)    Trade Facilitation Pilot Program – The secretary of state is directed to form a five-year pilot program to promote developing country implementation of the TFA and trade facilitation reforms. The TFA will improve regulatory transparency and reform and streamline customs procedures. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that the TFA, if fully implemented, could reduce trade costs for low-income countries by as much as 14 percent and for middle to higher-income countries by as much as 13-15 percent. The OECD also found a global reduction in trade costs by only 1 percent would boost worldwide income by as much as $40 billion, well over half of which would go to developing countries. 

Full bill text is available here