Op-Eds

Trade Works for the Southern Tier

f t # e
Washington, DC, June 8, 2015 | comments

Last week, more than 100 regional manufacturers, colleges, and job creation and training non-profits joined me as I hosted a manufacturing summit at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, NY. We brought them together to discuss ways to expand business opportunities and create local manufacturing jobs through trade.

Many of the discussions that I heard during the summit confirmed that world trade is nothing short of vital for the economy of Western New York. Trade means access to new markets and creates new jobs for Americans where "we make it here to sell it there."
Trade Promotion Authority is the necessary legislation that provides the procedural mechanisms to ensure the best trade agreements are reached with foreign markets and provides for a guaranteed vote in Congress in order to approve them.

The Constitution grants the President the power to negotiate with foreign governments to establish treaties, including trade agreements. In turn, it also gives Congress the power to enact the terms of those agreements into law. This means that Congress must collectively agree to each of the President’s trade agreements. This does not change under the TPA.

In fact, this bill actually gives Congress more authority by allowing us to determine the rules and requirements that the President must abide by when negotiating international trade agreements, before Congress can even consider the agreement. TPA outlines nearly 150 negotiating standards provided by Congress. These include baseline labor and human rights standards, preventing other countries from undercutting American workers with abusive labor practices and unreasonable working conditions, as well as ensure unfair trade practices such indigenous innovation requiring and intellectual property theft are addressed in the President's negotiating considerations.

TPA also includes guards against currency manipulation, where a foreign government can no longer artificially deflate the value of their exports to gain an unfair advantage against the United States. This means that the American dollar can buy more on the international market, and supports higher wages here at home.

TPA even includes protections for American Farmers and goes so far as to establish environmental protections that foreign nations must abide to in order to trade with the United States.

Quality, family-sustaining jobs are created by world trade right here in America. Nationally, one in five jobs, for a total of 39.8 million, are supported by trade. Trade related jobs also grew 3.5 times faster than total employment for 2004-2013 and they also pay 18 percent more on average than other factory jobs. With this in mind, it isn’t fair or right to prohibit Americans from the opportunity to access foreign markets with products we produce here. We can again become a nation of making things here to sell them over there.

By creating a level playing field in the world market, part of which is provided by enactment of TPA, we as Americans will win due to our prized local workforce, innovative spirit and are historic Puritan work ethic.

Every day TPA is not passed is another lost opportunity for American workers and businesses. Other nations are filling the void. America should lead the way, not be left behind.

f t # e