Friday, May 15, 2015

Hartzler: U. S. needs fair, enforceable trade policy

(By Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

A glance at the numbers shows that vast impact that American trade has on Missourians. Over 800,000 Missouri jobs are supported by international trade. Our state’s almost 6,000 exporters sent $14.6 billion in goods and $8.6 billion in services overseas in 2013 - increases of 35 and 24 percent respectively from 2009. We are the 11th largest exporter of agricultural products – fourth largest in rice exports and among the top 10 in soybeans, poultry, cotton, and corn. Clearly, trade drives an opportunity economy in Missouri.

Our country is currently negotiating a trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, with 11 Pacific Rim countries to establish trade rules and open new markets. With 96 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, an agreement of this magnitude will significantly help build a healthy economy for hardworking Missourians.

Without Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the American people have little to no say in these negotiations. TPA allows two important safeguards for Congressional oversight: Congress maintains the ability to put perimeters on negotiations that take place, and it still permits Congress to have the ultimate say over the final agreement.

This is the first president since FDR to not have these requirements in place. Under TPA, Congress gives the president - current or next, Republican or Democrat –objectives to pursue when negotiating, along with a requirement to keep Congress in the loop as negotiations go on. If requirements are met and a final deal is struck, Congress puts the deal to a vote before it can go into effect.

Without effective, fair and enforceable trade policy, America becomes weaker as our competitors become stronger. TPA allows America, not China or another country, to take the lead in setting trade rules with these countries. We need to pass TPA to give American workers the same opportunities as rest of the world and to make sure everyone follows the rules.

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