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Time to move TPP across the goal line

Negotiators from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries are in Washington this week to move this landmark agreement closer to completion. We are almost there – you could say we are in the “red-zone” of the negotiations. Let’s hope the negotiators can do what the Redskins couldn’t – and put some points on the board.  

I have spent much of my career focused on international trade so, to me, the benefits of trade are clear. Trade unlocks global opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers; I’ve seen it first hand. Open markets are the proven path to economic growth and prosperity and the United States can’t afford to sit on the sidelines while other countries are scoring trade deals that give preferential access for their workers and companies.  

{mosads}TPP will unite almost 40 percent of world GDP and 30 percent of global trade under a single agreement. The potential impact of TPP on the United States is enormous. To start with, while our market is already open to these countries, TPP will give the United States more and transparent access to their markets.  

TPP would also open access for American companies to over 485 million consumers. That’s more than the entire population of the United States. In Southeast Asia alone, an estimated 145 million people will be middle-class consumers by next year. That means increased spending on U.S. goods and services. Further, TPP partner countries are big drivers of the international economy. Goods and services trade among the 12 TPP countries grew a whopping 46 percent between 2009 and 2012. The TPP can also provide greater choice, value and quality for the goods we buy here in the United States.  

Trade has its critics, and I understand why – it is not a zero-sum game and there can be winners and losers. But we have one of the most competitive economies in the world and when given a fair shot, our workers and companies can compete with anyone. That’s why trade deals like the TPP are so important – they make it easier for us to sell American goods and services around the world.  

Trade already supports millions of American jobs each year. U.S. goods and services exports supported an estimated 11.3 million jobs in 2013, and trade-related employment grew 6.5 times faster than total employment grew between 2004 and 2011. These aren’t just any jobs, but well-paying jobs. In fact, companies that participate in international trade on average pay 15-20 percent higher wages than companies not engaged in global commerce. That means that American workers making the median annual income of $51,900 could earn over $10,000 more per year.  

It is important to understand that today’s global economy works through supply chains that span the globe. Products are rarely made in any one country – they are made in many countries. In fact, studies show that up to 60 percent of global trade is in component parts and 40 percent of the value of the average export comes from imported content. The challenge for America is to ensure that a larger and larger portion of those global supply chains move through the United States.

We need to get a high-standard, comprehensive TPP completed as soon as possible—just as we need to enact TPA without further delay. I am encouraged by the progress Ambassador Froman and his team has made on TPP and look forward to hearing from the negotiators this week on where things stand. Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions and getting a strong TPP across the goal line is a winning resolution that we can all celebrate.  

Cohen is president of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, which serves as the secretariat for the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP.

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