Liberty Letter: Congress must support free trade

Lawmakers in Washington, including members of congressional delegations from the states represented by the undersigned groups, need to work toward expanding America’s international trade agreements and opening up new markets to U.S. exports.

The importance of international trade to every state economy is undeniable as the attached table clearly shows.

According to a recent Business Roundtable study, the export/import industry supports roughly 37.1 mil-lion jobs in America.

Every year, on average, each state ships about $40 billion worth of goods and services to 195 different countries, totaling over $2 trillion worth of exports.

Some people worry that imports compete with goods made here at home. But, in fact, fully 61 percent of imports nationally are not finished products, but rather intermediate inputs and materials that Ameri-can companies then use to keep production costs low and stay competitive. Over 5.2 million Americans currently work for foreign-owned companies.

Increasing the ranks of America’s free-trade partners would lower existing trade barriers and create un-inhibited commercial channels. Such reforms have already substantially increased America’s export growth. In 2012 alone, countries that had trade deals with America bought more than 12 times more goods per capita from America than those countries that don’t. Developing free-trade agreements with these countries would help to lift unnecessary barriers. U.S. exporters could better compete in foreign markets and create more jobs here at home, with local consumers gaining access to a wider range of low-cost goods.

Similarly, the stagnant U.S. economy would get a big boost from renewed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). In the 1930s, Congress granted this power to President Franklin Roosevelt, allowing him to nego-tiate trade agreements with other nations and then submit them to Congress for an up or down vote. Every president from each party since Roosevelt was also given TPA – until 2007, when the TPA law passed expired and Congress failed to renew it.

Congress needs to fix this. TPA should be renewed – immediately. TPA permits efficient enactment of important trade agreements that will create jobs and improve lives right here in America. Instead of standing athwart history on behalf of their Big Labor backers, liberal-progressive Members of Congress need to support TPA on behalf of the vast majority of American workers who will benefit from increased trade. Without TPA, many countries won’t enter trade agreements with the United States fearing con-gressional politics will submit those agreements to death by a thousand sound bites.

As Congress dithers on TPA, our global competitors are rapidly entering into trade agreements, thereby putting American businesses and workers at a growing disadvantage. Enough is enough. International trade already serves a vital role in the U.S. economy. By further reducing barriers to global commerce, Congress can help our businesses grow and create prosperity and peace of mind for all Americans.af62e7383b3abb2-142bdef750139c52