As expected, trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) took center stage at the first presidential debate. Unfortunately, the conversation was off the mark. The candidates spent much of the time arguing who was more against the trade pact.
Thankfully, a joint op-ed in the Washington Post by Ursula Burns and Arne Sorenson, CEOs of Xerox and Marriott International, respectively, brought the conversation back to facts and sound logic. They cogently explained why we need the TPP. They’re right. Here are just a few reasons:
Equally important, workers in export-intensive manufacturing industries earn 18 percent more, on average, than those in other manufacturing sectors.
Strong exports drive a strong economy. Tariffs hinder our economy’s ability to ship its goods to the world. TPP would change this. In fact, 70% of the TPP’s text is tax and tariff cuts.
But what does this mean for jobs and growth here at home? Take a look at the agriculture sector. Most of these cuts will kick in immediately for farm product exports. Farmers will see a $4.4 billion net income increase annually and 40,000 jobs will be added to the U.S. economy. Burns and Sorenson point out that export services support 1 in 12 American jobs. Imagine what could be accomplished across all industries.
Staying out of the TPP would gravely diminish our ability to help shape future norms in a rapidly growing part of the world.
TPP is not a knee-jerk reaction to a weakening America. It’s not just another way for foreign powers to push us around and kick us to the backseat. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
TPP would put the United States in the driver’s seat not only when it comes to economic opportunity, but also world leadership. As our Patrick Kilbride says, TPP would ensure that America remains “the innovation center of the world.”
The United States has the strongest intellectual property laws in the world, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International IP Index. TPP would require American trading partners to implement a higher standard of international best practices to their intellectual property protections. This would not only protect American intellectual property, but would create a world in which “the creative capacity of people everywhere is unleashed.”
Any further delay in implementing the TPP invites other nations to step forward in shaping the future of trade and commerce in the Asia-Pacific. That would be a needless and regrettable blow to America’s competitiveness and leadership.
Trade deals work. Our trade deals involve a total of 20 countries worldwide. These countries represent only 6% of the world’s population outside of the U.S., but they have purchased half of all American exports, per the U.S. Department of Commerce.
What’s more, Chamber research found that American exports to new partner countries have grown about three times as rapidly on average in the five years after implementation than the global rate of growth. Opening up new markets to American exports can boost our economy in so many ways. To do that, we need to make “strong, new trade agreements based on openness, accountability, and fair play.” The TPP would be just that.
Other Asian nations have already entered negotiations for a different trade deal. Unfortunately for the American economy, the United States didn’t get a seat at that table. Now is not the time to “risk long-term economic isolation because of near-term political expediency or vitriolic debate,” as Burns and Sorenson say.
We’re on the verge of unleashing the power of the American export industry. We should heed the advice of Burns and Sorenson and harness it.