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Statement for the Congressional Record: Operation, Impact and Future of U.S. Preference Programs

December 2, 2009

CGD senior fellow Kimberly Ann Elliott submitted a written statement for the congressional record following the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee hearing on preference reform. Elliott urges policymakers to consider the special needs of the poorest countries as they debate the future of U.S. trade programs.

Download the Statement

From Elliott’s statement:

Trade has been a part of economic development for centuries. It has the potential to be a significant force for reducing global poverty by spurring economic growth, creating jobs, reducing prices, and helping countries acquire new technologies. U.S. trade policies can have an enormous impact—for good or ill—on developing countries, our own economy, and global security. The U.S. has one of the most open markets in the world, but remaining trade barriers hit poorer countries especially hard.

Congressional action on preference reform in early 2010 would strengthen U.S. leadership in promoting global change to make trade work for the poorest countries. With a strong U.S. reform in hand, President Obama could press his colleagues at the G-20 summit in Canada to implement the goal of full market access for least developed countries (LDCs) prior to the UN Summit’s progress review of the Millennium Development Goals in September.

Expanded market access for LDCs would offer opportunities for thousands of people, mostly young women, to pull themselves and their families out of extreme poverty. Because these countries are small and poor, the short-run impact on the U.S. economy would be small. In the long run, however, the benefits of better integrating trade with our broader development policies and helping to lift these countries out of poverty would be far greater.

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