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Pacific deal will boost exports for small businesses: report

Pacific deal will boost exports for small businesses: report
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The Obama administration is touting the export benefits of an Asia-Pacific trade pact for the nation’s smaller businesses in its efforts to promote the agreement to wary congressional lawmakers.

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 said small- to medium-sized businesses are the “biggest beneficiaries” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and that failing to ratify the deal would broadly hurt the U.S.'s reputation in the rapidly growing Pacific region.

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“If we cannot cross the finish line with TPP, the 11 other countries who negotiated with us, and, in many cases, made great sacrifices to reach this agreement, will be forced to rethink that faith in U.S. leadership,” Pritzker said during a Monday event on Capitol Hill.

Pritkzer argued that her conclusion isn’t mere speculation, because leaders from several TPP trading partners have made it clear that a U.S. failure to ratify the deal before President Obama leaves office “will require them to hedge their bets and consider closer relations with others in the region” like China.

Ahead of Pritzker’s remarks, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) released a new policy memo highlighting the experiences of seven companies that discuss how the TPP will boost their exports.

Without the Pacific deal, those small- and mid-sized business say they face a number of hurdles to ramping up their exports including pre-internet customs rules, high tariffs and other barriers.

Report author Ed Gerwin, senior fellow for trade and global opportunity at the PPI, said the TPP is "a vital, practical tool for eliminating foreign trade barriers and for opening up significant new opportunities for U.S. small businesses to grow by selling goods and services to key markets around the Pacific Rim."

"When Americans think of trade, we tend to focus on large, world-leading multinationals," Gerwin wrote.

"We usually don’t think of a small food exporter like Pacific Valley Foods, which started in a couple’s home office, or of The Pro’s Closet, an online global reseller of used biking gear founded by a pro cyclist," he said in the report. 

"But, like these businesses, 98 percent of U.S. exporters are actually small- and medium-sized enterprises, and these smaller traders account for over one-third of U.S. exports."

Obama wants the TPP passed before he leaves office, but the agreement faces an uphill battle on Capitol Hill, with many opponents calling the deal a corporate power grab that hurts most workers and leads to lower incomes.

Both presidential candidates — Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntercept DC bureau chief says Biden picks are 'same people' from Obama years The Hill's 12:30 Report - Third vaccine candidate with 90% efficacy Biden won — so why did Trump's popularity hit its highest point ever? MORE and Republican Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE — oppose the TPP and got into a heated exchange during Monday night's presidential debate over the direction of U.S. trade policy.

“Today, although we live in a very different time, the United States is once again called to choose between retreating into isolationism or embracing our position and influence in the world,” Pritzker said during the PPI event.

“The choice is clear: We must choose engagement over isolationism. We must choose prosperity over protectionism. We must choose the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” she said.

In a recent survey of small-business leaders, 66 percent of those who trade support the TPP and 69 percent agree that increasing international trade will create jobs in the United States.

Seven in 10 small-business leaders, 71 percent, say increasing trade between the United States and other countries will improve the economy overall, according to the survey conducted by Morning Consult with FedEx.

Another report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation argues that most of the criticism leveled against the TPP is “misguided, overstated or just plain wrong.” 

The report concludes that critics are “overreaching” and the agreement as a whole represents a significant step forward in establishing competitive, market-based terms of trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

“Simply put, the TPP will allow us to shape the rules of the global economy, to advance our economic strengths and values while protecting American companies from unfair trade,” Pritzker said. “We cannot let this opportunity pass us by."