The United States is negotiating its latest, and we hope state-of- the-art, 21st century, free trade agreement (FTA) with eight countries in the Pacific Rim. This TransPacific Partnership (TPP) brings together countries with which we have FTAs (Australia, Peru, Chile, Singapore) and countries with which we do not FTAs, yet have open access to their markets (New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei). This constitutes our third largest export market.
Now that Congress has approved the Korea, Panama and Colombia FTAs, it is critical that the U.S. continue its efforts to expand market access for American companies. The National Association of Manufacturers today joined more than 40 other trade associations across the entire spectrum of U.S. industry to tell President Obama the United States must continue its longstanding and bipartisan approach of seeking a comprehensive agreement that covers every commercial sector and sub-sector of the U.S. economy. To do anything less is to diminish the commercial value of the resulting agreement, and diminish the prospects the TPP holds for enhancing America’s competitiveness in the global economy.
Especially in these challenging economic times, achieving a comprehensive agreement that provides full reciprocal market access and does not exclude any sector, sub-sector, product or service from the market-access provisions or core rules of the final TPP is vital. It is also just as vital to ensure that there is no exclusion from any core principles that protect our investors and our intellectual property rights.
The NAM calls on the Administration to negotiate the broadest and deepest agreement and work with negotiating partners and domestic stakeholders to address sensitivities and concerns in a way that ultimately ensures the most comprehensive outcome possible and sets the stage for future expansion of the TPP to additional markets in Asia. We at NAM know that trade liberalization that enhances access to markets for our manufacturers and workers produces high paying jobs—jobs we sorely need now.
Stephen Jacobs is senior director of international business development, National Association of Manufacturers.