Consumer Electronics Association Highlights Trade Benefits, Value of Free Trade Policy During Port of Charleston Visit

July 26, 2008

Visit part of 30-State America Wins With Trade Bus Tour

Charleston, SC – July 25, 2008 – The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is taking its message to the street – literally.  That message, America Wins With Trade, is stretched across a 45-foot bus currently making its way across the country to promote the importance of trade and trade agreements to U.S. jobs and economic growth.

The tour bus stopped today at the Port of Charleston’s bustling Wando Welch Terminal as part of a 30-state tour launched earlier this week in New York City. Representatives from the CEA joined the S.C. State Ports Authority (SCSPA) and Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce in highlighting the positive impact of international trade felt locally, across the state and the nation.

America must compete globally with a strong economy, said Dan Cole, vice president of business development for the CEA. Free and fair trade protects U.S. employers and employees and gives American consumers access to the best the world has to offer at a good price.

Of CEA’s 2,200 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.   

Here in South Carolina, international trade means real jobs to real people, said Bernie Groseclose, president and CEO of the SCSPA. In fact, more than 400,000 men and women in our state owe their jobs to trade.

A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that for the first time most Americans viewed foreign trade as a threat to the economy.
CEA’s bus tour is designed to convey the message that free and fair trade in fact strengthens the U.S. economy.

Specifically, the CEA has called on the U.S. 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 pursuingnew 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.

About the CEA:
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $161 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,200 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES – Where Entertainment, Technology and Business Converge. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Find CEA online at <> .

About the SCSPA:
The S.C. State Ports Authority (SCSPA), established in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling commerce valued at more than $60 billion annually. Voted most productive U.S. port by readers of Cargo Business News, the Port of Charleston is one of the busiest ports on the East and Gulf coasts. For more information, visit <> .