Below is the opening statement from Rep. Bill Keating, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. It was released today by Congressman Keating's office.
This first hearing of the 115th Congress was held jointly with the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats on the US-UK relationship and impact of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement.
Ranking Member William R. Keating Remarks
Thank you Chairman Poe and Chairman Rohrabacher for convening this hearing. This is both a very timely and important foreign policy issue to address in our first hearing in the 115th Congress.
Thank you as well to the witnesses for being here and for adding to this discussion your expertise on the topics of trade and our partnerships in Europe.
The United States indeed has a long and enduring special relationship with the United Kingdom. Our longstanding alliance has withstood numerous wars and conflicts, and in recent decades, has been a critical force behind efforts to eradicate the threat of terrorism.
Our trade and investment relationship with the United Kingdom is substantial, and both our countries benefit greatly from these close economic ties.
This relationship encountered a new diplomatic landscape last summer, when the people of Britain voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. This outcome was surprising to many, including myself. And as a close partner to both the UK and the EU, we in Congress are keenly interested in the process by which Britain exits the EU and how the United States may continue to pursue a coherent foreign policy with these important partners.
It is therefore also necessary to be careful that the politics on both sides of the Atlantic around Brexit and how it will unfold, do not undermine the significance of the US relationship with the EU, nor of its relationship with Britain.
US ties with the EU in trade, in defense, in intelligence, and across a broad range of issues, have strengthened our economy and helped to make us more secure.
As a co-chair of the TTIP Caucus, I welcomed the trade negotiations between the US and the EU. With our economies representing nearly half of the global GDP and with the US and EU being each other’s largest overall trade and investment partner, this agreement would support jobs, remove trade barriers, and improve market access for our goods and services.
It would also allow the US and EU to contribute to setting high standards for global trade, standards that reflect fair treatment of workers, environmental concerns, safeguarding intellectual property and fair trade.
In the challenges we face, both economic and in terms of security, the strategic importance of our relationship with the EU is undeniable.
Other impacts of Brexit, such as the effects on the longstanding efforts of the U.S. to help broker Irish peace and reduce division there, are of great concern.
I have become concerned by suggestions that maintaining our special relationship with Britain would come at the expense of promoting robust transatlantic relations with the rest of Europe.
These relationships are not mutually exclusive. The US benefits in critical ways from each of them. Prime Minister May recently spoke to this point emphasizing that a strong EU is positive and critical for security. I believe that security includes strong economic relations.
So I am pleased that both the Europe and Trade Subcommittees are holding this hearing today to address US-UK relations and the impact of a US-UK free trade agreement, because the question of is not a question to be considered in a vacuum.
US-UK ties are unique but they need not be exclusive. To reinforce the sentiment of Prime Minister May, this is not a time to turn inward.