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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Addresses Vinyl Industry Fly-in

Jun 2017

At the 2017 Vinyl Industry Congressional Fly-in on May 17, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross addressed our attendees where he discussed the Trump administration’s commitment to growing the economy and creating more certainty for business and industry leaders.  Secretary Ross addressed growing concerns over updates to NAFTA, reducing barriers to trade with China, tax reform and other measures to increase trade opportunities for American business.

“This administration is committed to giving entrepreneurs and businesses the tools necessary to innovate, grow and create new American jobs,” Ross said.  “But we all know that government can only help to create the right conditions for job creation. It is the private sector that must carry the football over the goal line.”

Secretary Ross acknowledged that NAFTA would be a central focus of the administration’s efforts to improve trade regulations and opportunities for America business.  While acknowledging the importance of NAFTA to the overall economy, Secretary Ross also addressed some of the administration’s specific concerns with the trade agreement and their desire to improve it through renegotiation. 

“President Trump succinctly summed it up to me recently. He said, ‘If there is a new NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, it should be spelled with an extra ‘F’ - NAFFTA, meaning “North American Fair Free Trade Agreement’. Trade that it is free and fair to American business and workers is the standard we are applying across the globe and as we do this the administration is keenly aware that 35% of your industry’s total sales come from exports and that number is increasing by the day.”

“As you all know, the President also directed us to begin the process to reopening discussions with Canada and Mexico saying that I would play a leadership role in that process.  At best, it needs an update in important areas like rules of origin, intellectual property rights and ecommerce. And that is not even to mention the hundreds of thousands of jobs that have been lost since the signing of the deal.”

Although several industry groups have expressed concern over the administration’s efforts to renegotiate trade agreements like NAFTA, Secretary Ross sought to reassure attendees of his commitment to provide greater certainty by concluding the negotiations as quickly as possible.

“But we also know that business executives hate uncertainty. It’s obviously hard to plan, especially capital expenditures, when one doesn’t know what the rules will be. We plan to use trade promotion authority in negotiating our trade deals because the legislative process is not designed to match private sector speed. We will work to conclude the NAFTA talks as rapidly as possible.”

Secretary Ross concluded his comments by praising the vinyl industry for its strong growth and trade surplus with Americas top three major trading partners, including China, Canada and Mexico.

“I was glad to hear also that your industry last year had a 1.3 billion dollar trade surplus and that you have trade surpluses with all 3 of our major trading partners. You are setting a great example for other industries. I hope that you can expand that surplus as we put in place economic policies that put American workers first. Please let us know what our department can do to help you achieve that objective.”

The Vinyl Institute will continue working with the Trump administration and other industry stakeholders to address trade and regulatory barriers, both here and abroad, that threaten our continued growth.  We would like to thank Secretary Ross for his commitment to creating opportunities for business growth and look forward to working with him and his colleagues in the administration.

You can read a transcript of Secretary Ross’s remarks here.