As President Obama concludes his tour of Asia, one of the most pressing issues he discussed with his counterparts is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement currently under negotiation between the United States and eleven other nations on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Two of these countries – Japan and Malaysia – are stops on the President’s tour, and his visit to the region is a sign of how important the Trans-Pacific Partnership is to American trade policy and our overall foreign policy. TPP is also critical to jump-start a lagging U.S. economy.
The Asia-Pacific region is already home to some of our biggest trading partners, including President Obama’s first stop in Japan, our fourth-largest partner. On the other side of the Pacific, Canada and Mexico are first and third respectively. While the United States already holds individual Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with several countries that would become part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, signing the agreement would open up exciting new markets like Japan, Malaysia and Brunei to the top-notch goods and services provided by American workers.
TPP countries contribute about 15 percent of all global trade, and in 2012, the U.S. traded more than $1.5 trillion in goods with these nations alone. And this market is only getting larger. Since 2006, the goods trade has seen a 44 percent increase with our existing FTA partners in the region, while the services industry has seen a 42 percent spike. This is good news for American workers and taxpayers. Trade with TPP countries supported nearly 15 million American jobs in 2011. If we are able to remove trade barriers and strengthen investment ties with these nations by signing this agreement, the growth potential is enormous. Taxpayers benefit because government will bring in more tax revenue without raising taxes.
However, there’s still work to be done here at home before we can expand our trade presence abroad. To advance TPP and other trade agreements in the works around the world, Congress must grant Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to the President. TPA allows the President – with the consultation and oversight of Congress – to negotiate trade deals on behalf of the United States, greatly expediting an otherwise ponderous process. TPA has been used in this manner by every President since Franklin Roosevelt, until it expired in 2007.