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Wednesday, March 20 , 2019, 11:27 am | Fair 59º


Tom Donohue: Global Customers = American Jobs

The longer we wait to move forward on trade, the farther ahead our competitors will get

Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside of the United States. And the worldwide race among leading global economies to reach them and sell them things is under way — and gaining speed.

How is America faring? We’re in the contest, but we risk ceding ground, customers and, most importantly, jobs to competitors that are ambitiously going after new trade deals.

Worldwide, 100 separate trade agreements are being negotiated, and the United States is involved in only one of them. For the sake of American jobs and growth, we’ve got to pick up the pace around the globe.

Already, trade supports 38 million jobs here at home. Building on this strong foundation, trade can revitalize our weak economy and create hundreds of thousands of badly needed jobs without raising taxes or adding to the deficit.

How do we do it? Congress should quickly pass legislation funding the Export-Import Bank, which would provide financing that enables small businesses to export.

The bank supports billions of dollars in U.S. exports and sustains nearly 300,000 American jobs. And it’s a good investment of taxpayer money, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the Treasury every year. When other countries are providing their own exporters with an estimated $1 trillion in export finance, failure to reauthorize Ex-Im would amount to unilateral disarmament and cost tens of thousands of American jobs.

Next, lawmakers must approve Permanent Normal Trade Relations for Russia, which will join the World Trade Organization this summer. Unless Congress acts, U.S. workers, farmers and companies won’t reap the full benefits of Russia’s entry into the WTO, which will require it to open its markets, protect intellectual property and investments, and strengthen the rule of law. Meanwhile, European and Asian companies will build on their already significant head-start in tapping the growing Russian market.

The United States should also advance agreements to boost trade with big commercial partners, including the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership and the European Union. It should pursue agreements with emerging markets such as Brazil, Egypt, India and Indonesia. To do so, Congress must renew trade promotion authority, which grants the executive branch authority to negotiate trade agreements without fear of them being picked apart by Congress. Prospective trade partners won’t enter into talks without it.

The longer we wait to move forward on trade, the farther ahead our competitors will get. And we can’t afford to fall behind. Not when global customers are up for grabs and American jobs are on the line.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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