This week in Auckland, New Zealand, trade ministers from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries will sign an historic pact designed to tear down myriad barriers to trade in a region that accounts for 60 percent of global GDP and 50 percent of international trade. The next big step will be for our Congress and the 11 other parties to the deal to ratify it. The TPP is a good agreement and Congress should approve it.

The U.S. semiconductor industry is a bellwether for the tech sector and the U.S. economy. For our companies, which design and manufacture the chips that underpin modern technology and the digital economy, free trade makes it possible for us to compete, innovate, and grow at home and around the world.


Most of the manufacturing done by U.S. semiconductor companies occurs in the United States, but 82 percent of our products are sold to customers overseas. In fact, we are America’s third-largest exporter of manufactured goods, after autos and planes. By eliminating trade tariffs and removing a thicket of regulatory and other non-tariff barriers, the TPP makes it possible for our companies to sell more Made-In-America semiconductors to the massive markets in the Asia-Pacific. The dollars we get from overseas customers can be invested in new jobs, equipment, and research right here in the United States, bolstering America’s leadership of this foundational technology

The TPP would also help the United States stay in the pole position in the race to develop the rules of the road for 21st Century trade. The 30 dense chapters that comprise the TPP are interlaced with American values and principles of trade that would act as a powerful counterbalance to others who have visions for global trade in today’s digital economy that are vastly different from our own. The TPP is a line in the sand to our competitors, a resounding message that fairness and openness – not mercantilism and protectionism – must be the hallmarks of 21st Century trade.

Trade is done differently in today’s digital economy, where goods are shipped through digital pipelines rather than only on supertankers. It’s important for trade agreements to keep pace. The TPP reflects the global trade priorities of today and tomorrow, rather than those of yesterday. It creates a powerful new center of gravity on the global trade landscape – one driven by high-standard rules that are fair and forward leaning, rather than rules that threaten to chop up the world into small pieces.

In addition to the 12 current TPP parties, several other countries have indicated their interest in joining the agreement, including Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines. Still more will undoubtedly follow suit.

The TPP has faced opposition from some who claim it would hurt U.S. businesses and cost U.S. jobs.  The semiconductor industry is one of America’s great success stories, a shining example of our country’s longstanding technology leadership. Semiconductors were invented here more than a half-century ago, and the United States continues to lead the global market today. For this U.S.-born-and-led industry and many others, the TPP would promote growth and job creation, not harm them.

Given all the TPP would do to spur U.S. competitiveness and economic growth, it should come as no surprise the agreement has the strong support of the American people. By a 20-point margin, Americans think the TPP is good for this country, according to the Pew Research Center, and nearly 7 in 10 Americans say the same about trade in general.

America is at its best when it’s leading. Our country led the way in the invention of key technologies such as semiconductors, and remains the world’s top innovator today.  We have led the way in writing the rules for free trade for decades, and we have a chance to continue doing so again through the TPP. 

The TPP is good for the semiconductor industry, the tech sector, the American economy, and the global economy. Congress should approve it.

Neuffer is president and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association, the voice of the U.S. semiconductor industry.