Suddenly, a Bold Trade Agenda

Mar 25, 2013

The United States suddenly has a bold trade agenda filled with ambition and possibility. Its success would reignite economic growth and generate millions of new jobs. It’s not complicated—when companies, large and small, have more customers, they can do more business. That, in turn, leads to more hiring and investment.

During its first term, the Obama administration could hardly be considered pro-trade. It slow walked three vital trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia negotiated by the Bush administration before finally allowing them to go through after years of needless delays. It also didn’t show much interest in pursuing new agreements.

That’s all changed. The administration and the business community are joining forces to throw their support behind three groundbreaking trade agreements that could help jump-start our economy, open new markets to American goods and services, and create badly needed jobs.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, or TPP, would help patch American businesses into the world’s fastest-growing, most dynamic markets. The Asia-Pacific region will import $10 trillion worth of goods in 2020. If America wants a large slice of that pie, then we need to conclude this agreement as quickly as possible. And TPP isn’t just about Asia—it encompasses some of the most promising economies in Latin America as well.

We also need to get moving on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an ambitious trade pact with the European Union, our largest trading partner. It would remove tariff and nontariff barriers to increased trade, driving jobs and growth on both sides of the pond at a time when our economies badly need it.

Here’s one you may not hear a lot about, but it could have a huge impact—nearly 50 countries will soon begin negotiations on an international agreement to boost trade in services. The United States is the world’s largest exporter of services, with a $195 billion trade surplus. An agreement could boost U.S. services exports by as much as $860 billion, creating as many as 3 million American jobs.

For any of these proposals to be realized, the administration will need trade promotion authority (TPA), which allows the president to negotiate agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster. Other countries will not conclude agreements with the United States if they believe those deals will be picked apart by Congress. Trade leaders in Congress say they want to pass TPA this year, and the administration says it’s finally ready to engage.

For a nation starving for jobs, growth, and bipartisan cooperation, trade is just the ticket.

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