Ryan promotes trade, falls short of endorsing TPP

Ryan promotes trade, falls short of endorsing TPP
© Getty Images

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow this year’s freshmen can save the Congress — and themselves Democrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters Amazon fleeced New York, Virginia with HQ2 picks MORE (R-Wis.) called for boosting U.S. exports but fell short of endorsing an expansive Pacific Rim trade deal that could go before Congress next year.

Ryan, who as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee was one of the leaders who guided trade promotion authority through the House, will play a critical role in whether the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) earns enough support to clear Congress. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"If we want to create good jobs, we need to make more things in America and sell them overseas, because 96 percent of the world’s people — they don’t live in the United States," Ryan said Thursday during his first major policy address as speaker, delivered at the Library of Congress.

"They live in other countries. And we will not sell them as much as we could if we don’t have trade agreements," he said.

The Obama administration, which completed the TPP nearly two months ago after years of talks, released the text of the sweeping agreement on Nov. 5.

Ryan argued, as he has throughout the trade debate over the fast-track authority requested by President Obama, that the U.S. has a surplus with countries where trade deals are in place but runs a deficit with other trading partners.

"Other countries will not stop taxing and blocking our exports unless we negotiate with them," Ryan said.

But he remained cautious on taking a stance on the TPP, which is in the early stages of review by lawmakers. 

"Now, before we sign up for any agreement, we have to make sure it is a fair deal," Ryan said.

"I’m thinking of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in particular," he said.

"But we have to engage. Only an active, forward-leaning America can tear down barriers to American exports."

The TPP, which is part of the nation's pivot to Asia, is being sold by the White House and other trade supporters as a way for the United States to get a leg up in writing the global rules of trade instead of letting China take the lead.

"There won’t be a level playing field — there won’t be free and fair trade — unless we work for it," Ryan said.

"China is out there every day pushing for crony capitalism. So it all comes down to this question: Are we going to write the rules of the global economy — or is China?"