Pritzker make's Obama's trade case in Minnesota

Commerce Secretary Penny PritzkerPenny Sue PritzkerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday Biden's new campaign ad features Obama speech praising him Obama Commerce secretary backs Biden's 2020 bid MORE made her case Friday for how sweeping global trade agreements can boost the nation’s economic expansion. 

Pritzker told business leaders in Minneapolis that the Obama administration is negotiating trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to increase U.S. exports and “increase your access to this vast base of potential customers.”

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“Your firms need access to those markets with fewer barriers standing in your way,” she said. 

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership represents an historic opportunity for America’s businesses in the fastest-growing market on the planet,” she said in remarks to the Minnesota Business Partnership in her first visit to the state. 

“By 2030, it is expected that the number of middle class consumers in the Asia-Pacific region will grow from roughly 500 million to more than 3 billion — more than six times the size of the expected U.S. market at that time,” she said. 

She argued that the TPP is about more than just lowering tariffs — it also is about raising labor, environmental and intellectual property standards as part of a broad comprehensive agreement. 

“TPP and other trade agreements are not only important to the success of your businesses, but to the economic security of the 11.7 million Americans nationwide whose jobs are supported by exports,” she said. 

“Here is the bottom line: new trade agreements are good for you, good for your workers and good for our country’s economy.”

Congressional lawmakers have expressed skepticism about the benefits of trade. 

Despite the hurdles, House and Senate Republicans and a few dozen Democrats pushed trade promotion authority through Congress this summer, which will fast track trade deals through Congress without amendment when they reach Capitol Hill. 

The TPP is still being negotiated with the expectation that trade leaders of the 12 participating countries will meet this fall — possibly later this month — in an effort to complete the deal and send it to Congress. 

During her remarks, Pritzker also tied congressional budget talks on Capitol Hill to the nation’s global expansion. 

“Mindlessly slashing investments is no way to run a business when you are trying to grow and compete, and playing political games with our budget is no way to run our government when our global competitiveness is at stake,” she said. 

“It will take all of us being clear to our leaders that we must choose to make smart, necessary investments in our core priorities as a nation — in our infrastructure, in trade, in innovation and in the skills of our workforce.”