Let’s take a bipartisan path to economic growth – with trade

Trade Promotion Authority will clear the way for job-creating trade agreements.

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There is a bipartisan way forward on many of the challenges our country is facing, including improving our economy, driving growth and creating jobs. Now is the time for action. And an important step toward these goals is to create new market access opportunities for our workers, businesses and farmers. Like my colleagues, I witness firsthand in my district, which crosses the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, that when we sell more products abroad, we create jobs here at home.

Evidence of the positive impact of increased trade is clear. According to the Department of Commerce, in 2014, our exports reached over $2.3 trillion, a 2.9 percent increase from the year before. Implementation of high-standard trade agreements over the last 10 years has bolstered this strong trend, with our exports growing by 96 percent from 2004 to 2013. Because of this increase in trade, trade-related employment continues to grow. Currently, trade supports one in five U.S. jobs, totaling 38 million jobs nationwide. These jobs pay well, enough to allow an apple grower in Washington to provide for his or her family.

And the good news is that the future looks even brighter. The United States is engaged in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific, and for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with the European Union. Each of these negotiations would expand trade and investment and address tariff and non-tariff barriers that limit our access to these important markets.

Combined, these agreements would account for more than 60 percent of global trade and improve market access to almost a billion consumers. A high-standard, comprehensive TPP and TTIP will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. The U.S. is also negotiating a Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) to update and liberalize services trade rules to the benefit of our service providers, like those providing telecommunications, software and transportation services, as well as our manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

If we want to finalize these agreements and bring the benefits home, we must first band together to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Not only does TPA support the work of our trade negotiators to get the best agreements possible, it also reaffirms the role of Congress by setting forth our negotiating objectives and establishing a clear consultative framework. With these important negotiations underway, moving quickly on TPA is more important than ever.

As a member of Congress, I want to ensure that the voices of my constituents are heard. TPA is the tool members use to direct trade negotiators to press for high-standard, ambitious outcomes in areas of critical importance to the workers, businesses and farmers in our districts.

Many of us are working with our colleagues to prepare the way for passage of TPA as soon as possible. This will require all of us working together — the president, the administration and Congress. I will continue to push forward a robust trade agenda that means jobs and growth for Americans, which starts with TPA.

Rep. Dave Reichert represents Washington State’s Eighth District.

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