Today’s vote by the U.S. Senate to pass the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is a major step forward in finally moving the stalled free trade agreements with Colombia, Korea and Panama. Those agreements — and new opportunities for growth of American manufacturing exports — have languished since 2006.
Meanwhile, our competitors in Europe, Canada, Japan, and other manufacturing powerhouses have continued to negotiate, sign and implement bilateral trade agreements that gain them preferential access to growing markets around the globe. Their manufacturing exports supplant and replace ours in market after market.
For a lasting economic recovery and job creation, increasing our manufacturing exports will be a key factor. The single easiest way to increase our exports is to lower tariff and non-tariff barriers in other countries. Trade agreements promote jobs and exports. President Obama has touted the job-creating nature of trade agreements repeatedly in recent weeks. He has asked Congress to pass the pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
Now that the Senate has passed TAA, it is imperative that President Obama send the trade agreements to the House for approval. There is bipartisan support for all three in the House and Senate, and leadership has vowed to move quickly on passage. All we need is for the agreements to be transmitted. They should be sent immediately.
Doug Goudie is director of international trade policy, National Association of Manufacturers.