By Vicki Needham - 02/20/14 10:22 AM EST
A new poll released Thursday shows that a majority of voters wants Congress and the White House to work together toward forging new free trade agreements.
The survey found 80 percent back a collaborative effort from lawmakers and President Obama on trade, an issue that has created a sharp divide among Democrats.
“These numbers confirm what manufacturers already know — Americans overwhelmingly support trade agreements that eliminate barriers, open new markets and create a fair playing field for American workers and businesses,” said Linda Dempsey, NAM's vice president of international economic affairs.
NAM argues that the best way to ensure the needed teamwork is for Congress to pass trade promotion authority (TPA), which helps the White House negotiate trade deals within a framework of congressional priorities.
TPA was last approved 12 years ago, and it expired in 2007.
Business groups are pressing for trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which they argue will help lower barriers for their U.S. made products, leading to a faster pace of job creation with better pay.
But many Democrats argue previous trade deals have hurt the U.S. economy and facilitated the shipping of jobs overseas, leading to lower wages for U.S. workers.