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U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich Delivers Opening Statement At Joint Economic Committee Hearing On E-Commerce

on September 12, 2017 - 1:48pm
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich
WASHINGTON, D.C.  U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee, delivered the following statement at Sept. 12 hearing entitled “The Dynamic Gains from Free Digital Trade for the U.S. Economy.” Ranking Member Heinrich highlighted in his opening remarks how e-commerce is crucial to growing and democratizing the economy.
Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Vice Chairman Lee, and thank you to our panel for being here today.
E-commerce touches industries across all sectors of the economy and Americans across the country. It is a key source of American jobs and 21st century economic growth and its importance will only grow. 
We know that the internet enables U.S. companies, big and small, to efficiently reach markets around the world. Manufacturers, banks, retailers, airlines, farmers and a range of other businesses rely on the internet to seamlessly access and move data across borders. 
The internet has fundamentally transformed our lives – and the way we buy goods.
The benefits of international trade used to be concentrated among big business. The internet changed all that, opening doors to small and mid-sized businesses and even one-person shops.
Now, an individual with a broadband connection can sell his or her goods and services all over the world – from an artisan from Acoma Pueblo, to a game designer from Albuquerque or a Hatch Chile farmer in Cruces, they can all now enter the global market place.
A recent study found that 95 percent of U.S. small and medium businesses on eBay export and 190,000 of these firms export to four or more continents.
The United States is an e-commerce leader today. The International Trade Commission estimates that digital trade contributed more to gross domestic product than all but four states in 2011, and has lifted wages by as much as 5 percent, while adding up to 2.4 million more fulltime jobs.
In New Mexico, we are working hard to ensure that the opportunities of the digital economy reach every corner of the state. I’m excited to welcome Facebook, which is scheduled to open a multi-building data center next year in Los Lunas that will generate more than 100 jobs at the data center and up to 1,000 construction jobs. 
With 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook is literally built on cross-border data flows.
To fully realize the gains from digital trade, we need to ensure global policies enable companies to harness the power of the internet to reach new customers around the world.
For this to happen, it’s vital we have a free and open internet, with privacy protections. And that starts right here at home.  Your personal information should not be shared or sold without your consent.  Your health, financial and other personal and sensitive information must be protected.
While internet providers must be prevented from selling users’ personal information without user consent, companies should be able to choose where to store data. 
When U.S. companies can’t store data in the U.S., they lose out on jobs and the ability to use the data to improve their products and services.
As far as we’ve come, with the number of internet users worldwide tripling in the past decade, we are still in the early stages. And the opportunities for e-commerce, domestically and internationally, are unlimited.
But, to realize the potential the internet provides, we need to accelerate the roll out of broadband and ensure that rural areas and tribal communities have greater access. Right now, four in ten rural residents lack broadband access, and among rural tribes, that number climbs to seven in ten without access.
To help bring more Native American students online, I will soon introduce legislation that promotes broadband access for students and Tribal community members.
During a meeting I convened at the Santa Fe Indian School recently, the Tribal Administrator of Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico Everett Chavez put it this way: “Access to the internet is new, but it is an equally essential infrastructural need to our tribal communities as water, power, telecommunications, or roads.”
It doesn’t matter if you are a student, rancher, manufacturer, teacher, doctor or small business – high-speed internet is critical to thriving in the economy of the future. 
Finally, as we focus on digital trade today, we should be clear that this is just one piece of a bigger issue.
We need to be vigilant, to evolve the rules of the road when new technologies are developed, and to protect our workers from countries seeking advantages through unfair trade practices.  
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing from our panel, and I’d like to thank former Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, the witness I invited, for being here today.