U.S. position in the world depends on Trans-Pacific Partnership

While recent attention has been focused on violent conflicts in the Middle East, an economic battle is brewing in the Pacific. The United States is on the brink of concluding one of the most important trade deals in generations, but China, national labor union leaders, and anti-consumer interests are trying to derail it. Now it’s Congress’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Since 2008, the United States has been negotiating a high-standard multilateral trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Together with 11 other nations including Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam, we have focused on setting economic rules for the region and tearing down antiquated barriers to trade.

Potential benefits for the United States are enormous if Congress can conclude work on TPP. According to the Congressional Research Service, total trade in goods between TPP member countries reached $1.6 trillion in 2014 and trade in services hit $274 billion in 2013. That represents nearly 40 percent of all worldwide trade. Improving market access for U.S. companies and crafting smarter trade policy will only increase these numbers in the future.

Colorado stands to benefit from TPP significantly, as well. According to the Business Roundtable, trade with countries involved in TPP supports more than 260,000 Colorado jobs. The Organization for International Investment estimates that 3,790 new jobs in Colorado would be created as a result of a concluded TPP agreement. Billions of dollars in economic activity are at stake and companies from Cortez to Yuma could seek out major new markets abroad for goods as diverse as dairy products and zipline equipment.

Nearly $750 million worth of meat products and goods from the meatpacking industry were exported from Colorado to TPP countries in 2014. Semiconductor and electronics companies shipped almost $330 million worth of goods to TPP nations. A 2012 Peterson Institute for International Economics study estimates that those industries could see as much as a 2 percent increase in added value as a result of a finalized TPP agreement. That means more Colorado jobs and more investment in our state’s economy.

Sensible trade policies are also good for the American worker. According to Office of the United States Trade Representative, jobs relating to goods exports pay up to 18 percent higher than the average American job. National labor union leaders have a history of attacking any trade deal as bad for the American worker. I reject those claims — our workers can out-compete anyone on the international stage. It’s time to embrace our homegrown goods and fill international markets with more tags that read “Made in the U.S.A.” rather than “Made in China.”

Our Work on TPP extends beyond the economic relationships a high-standard agreement would create—it also cements the United States as a powerful player in Asia-Pacific affairs. Failure to conclude TPP would be a badly missed opportunity for the United States and leave our allies in Asia-Pacific with few potential free trade partners. China has aggressively worked to expand their power in the region and the collapse of TPP negotiations would embolden them further. Now is the time for American leadership in that part of the world, not retreat.

We are faced with the opportunity of a century. Under American direction, we can set the rules for a new economic coalition in the Asia-Pacific and send a strong message to our global competitors. We can open new markets and untapped revenue to farmers and ranchers across rural Colorado, tech companies on the Front Range, and many others throughout the country, creating thousands of jobs in the process. The choice is easy: I urge Congress to quickly take up and pass trade promotion authority so we can conclude a TPP agreement. Our position in the world depends on it.

— Republican Cory Gardner is the junior U.S. Senator from Colorado.

By:  Senator Gardner
Source: Greeley Tribune