May 25, 2016 - 9:00am

Dear 45: Unleash the Power of Global Trade

Dear 45,

No matter what happens between now and January, you will step into the White House at a critical and likely difficult time for our country. Our economy continues to sputter, job creation continues to lag, small businesses continue to struggle – and, unfortunately, none of that appears likely to change in the coming months, as policymakers have already turned their attention from legislating to campaigning. Thus, Americans will be counting on you and your administration to come in and unleash the power of free enterprise and help businesses put more Americans back to work.

One of the most effective tools you will have at your disposal is trade.

Despite much of the rhetoric we have heard out on the campaign trail, we hope that you understand that selling more American-made goods and services around the world is one of the best ways to spur economic growth, support small businesses, create good-paying American jobs, and keep the United States one step ahead of its international competitors. After all, 95 percent of the world’s consumers now live outside America’s borders, representing nearly limitless expansion opportunities for U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs.

It’s not theoretical, this relationship between trade and economic growth. Today, trade supports approximately 41 million American jobs, including 6.2 million manufacturing jobs that are directly linked to exports of Made-in-the-USA goods. Moreover, those manufacturing jobs tied to exports tend to have higher wages than those positions that are not contributing to international sales.

 

In addition, many of the companies that benefit from trade are small, independent and often family-owned businesses. Of the more than 300,000 American companies that currently sell their products and services to customers abroad, 98 percent are small businesses.

The economic benefits of trade don’t end there. For American consumers, more trade means more access to the affordable goods we depend on every day. Further, more than half of U.S. imports consists of raw materials and inputs purchased by manufacturers — many not available from domestic sources but all important to their competitiveness. After all, no one country – not even the U.S. – can efficiently produce all of the products and services its citizens need; thus, no country can have a prosperous economy and a high standard of living without trade. In other words, global commerce and international supply chains help us keep prices low.

That’s why it’s imperative that your administration pursue pro-trade policies, starting with approval of two pending trade agreements, one with our partners across the Pacific and the second with our friends in Europe. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), for starters, would help American businesses more easily access customers in 11 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, where more than 2 billion people have recently joined the middle class. The TPP will reduce trade barriers like tariffs and strengthen key intellectual property agreements. Signed earlier this year, the deal still requires approval from Congress, and it may very well need a major push from you to get it over the finish line.

Meanwhile, negotiators are still finalizing a trade agreement with our partners in Europe known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). While the details are still being worked out, TTIP holds similar promise, in that it could help more American businesses access key markets in Europe.

While chiefly important, those are hardly the only two opportunities you will have to expand trade and open new markets to American businesses. From our warming relationship with Cuba to our free trade agreements in Latin America to our increasingly strong relations with expanding countries in Africa and the Middle East, you’ll have opportunities to strengthen bilateral relationships in ways that will enable U.S. businesses to more easily reach new customers, grow their international presence and create more jobs in the United States.

More broadly, we hope you will continue to pursue and negotiate trade and investment agreements that are fair, accountable, and economically sound; agreements that create a level playing field for U.S. companies, that put American workers and families first, and that benefit our country’s businesses and our country’s consumers alike. If you embrace such pro-trade policies, even at this challenging point in our country’s history, you have an opportunity to strengthen America’s economy while at the same time solidifying its position as a world leader.

We look forward to working with you on this and many other important issues.

Sincerely,