House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing
March 4, 2015
On the occasion of this hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Prospects for Greater U.S. Trade,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pleased to take this opportunity to offer its own views and those of its members in support of the TPP and renewal of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The Chamber is the world’s largest business federation, representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.
In the Chamber’s view, reinvigorating economic growth and creating good jobs are the nation’s top priorities. More than 17 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for work. Participation in the workforce stands near 62%, the lowest since 1978, reflecting a significant level of discouragement.
World trade must play a central role in reaching this job-creation goal. After all, outside our borders are markets that represent 80% of the world’s purchasing power, 92% of its economic growth, and 95% of its consumers. The resulting opportunities are immense, and many Americans are already seizing them. One in three manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on American farms is planted for hungry consumers overseas.
Nor is trade important only to big companies. Often overlooked in the U.S. trade debate is the fact that 98% of the 300,000 U.S. companies that export their products are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and they account for one-third of U.S. merchandise exports, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. In fact, the number of SMEs that export has more than doubled over the past 15 years.
The bottom line is simple: If America fails to look abroad, our workers and businesses will miss out on huge opportunities. Our standard of living and our standing in the world will suffer. With so many Americans out of work, opening markets abroad to the products of American workers, farmers, and companies is a higher priority than ever before.