What others say: Congress should grant trade-promotion authority

  • Wednesday, June 10, 2015 6:37pm
  • Opinion

Rep. Mimi Walters guested this week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” during which the Irvine Republican made a strong, albeit succinct, case for granting President (Barack) Obama trade-promotion authority.

Under such authority, also known as “fast-track,” the president would be able to submit trade agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote — without filibusters or amendments by lawmakers reflexively opposed to seemingly any and every proposed free-trade agreement.

Rep. Walters noted that “one in five jobs in America are created because of free trade” and that “95 percent of (the world’s) consumers are outside of the United States.” She also warned, correctly, that “if America doesn’t take the lead on trade, China is going to.”

Off camera, Rep. Walters went into further detail with us on why she believes it imperative that the House not only approve TPA — following the Senate, which approved fast-track legislation in May — but also the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade pact between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations.

“If you look at American jobs,” she told us, “trade supported 38 million” workers. As to California, the world’s seventh-largest economy, “trade supported 4.7 million jobs.”

Approval of the Pacific trade pact will increase U.S. exports to the other 11 prospective signatories — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — by lowering tariffs and quotas.

As it is, U.S. businesses, big, small and in-between, sold nearly $700 billion worth of goods in 2013 to those 11 nations — 44 percent of this country’s overall exports.

Here in California, businesses exported $27.5 billion worth of merchandise to the TPP countries in 2014, out of $174 billion in total exports. If the state could increase its exports to those 11 Pacific Rim nations so that it was comparable with the rest of country — 44 percent — California businesses would sell more than twice as much to those trading partners.

Foes of both fast track and the Pacific Rim trade pact suggest that American businesses and workers would be better off without either. But if such myopic thinking prevailed, the U.S. would cede its longstanding leadership in international trade to China, as Rep. Walters predicted.

And we hardly see how that would benefit the United States or the Golden State.

— Orange County Register, Santa Ana, California,

June 9

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