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Established in 1953, Polyguard Products in Ennis, Texas, develops products that protect surfaces and structures from moisture, water, and more. Focusing on corrosion coatings for steel pipelines, major oil companies highly regard Polyguard’s patented non-shielding RD-6 Coating. Infrastructure around the world faces corrosion from water infiltration, and companies need the high performance protective coatings from Polyguard to stop the otherwise inevitable destruction of infrastructure.
Polyguard first started to export to countries outside of the U.S. in 2005, mainly focusing on oil and gas pipeline maintenance and petrochemical industry users. This expansion into the international market has created approximately 10 new jobs at Polyguard, increasing total employment to 110. Nathan Muncaster, Global Business Development Director at Polyguard Products, reports: “In the past ten years, Polyguard has expanded sales to 34 countries. All of this has certainly contributed to our last 22 straight years of uninterrupted expansion.”
Despite these successes, Polyguard still faces difficulties while exporting. In one instance, a potential buyer in Europe trialed one of Polyguard’s products, a process that would usually take a similar European-manufactured product no more than two years; however, because Polyguard did not conform to European standards, the buyer ended up having to test for 5 years – over twice the time it would take the similar European-manufactured product. At the of the testing period, it was found only Polyguard’s product reliably passed every single test — a testament to American engineering.
The issue that often confronts Polyguard Products — and other U.S. exporters — stems not from the quality of the product delivered but from the discrepancy in standards and perceptions between foreign and domestic markets. Muncaster recognizes that “regulatory cooperation on standards in free trade agreements (FTAs) would be immensely helpful for Polyguard and other firms not only because it would cut down on the number of hurdles we would have to jump, but also because it would help to change the perceptions that many international companies have, allowing us greater market access.”
One proposed trade agreement that would make a real difference for Polyguard and other U.S. firms is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). One of its goals is to expand U.S.-EU cooperation on standards to make it easier for companies like Polyguard to export. Exports currently make up about 10% of Polyguard’s sales; however, an agreement such as TTIP would help to open European markets to Polyguard, allowing the firm to tap foreign markets more extensively as a source of growth and job creation.
In order to set the right goals in negotiating TTIP and other future FTAs, Congress must have a close working relationship with the Executive Branch when it comes to trade negotiations. That’s where Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) comes in.
Every President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has had a version of TPA to allow close executive-legislative cooperation in trade negotiations, but the latest iteration lapsed in 2007. Without TPA, trade negotiations become a difficult prospect. Muncaster is clear in laying out what must then happen: “Congress needs to renew TPA in order to provide a strong framework for U.S. trade negotiations — negotiations that businesses like Polyguard depend upon for access to global markets.”