In the U.S. news media, it is hard to avoid stories regarding the importance of international trade. Importing and exporting are both crucial to our economy. Among the recent topics is the potential for a U.S./European union trade partnership (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP). Although negotiations on that pact continue, President Obama is also pushing to obtain “fast track authority” to assemble a Trans-Pacific trade arrangement involving 12 nations. The Administration’s objective is to open new markets to U.S. goods by reducing or eliminating duties and other non-tariff trade barriers. Many U.S. businesspeople see the advantages of a more open market. On the other side of the argument, there are concerns about U.S. job losses (due to increased competition from companies in Asia), as well as questionable adherence to environmental and labor standards by some in the Asia/Pacific region.
The current proposal has resulted in heated debate in Congress. At this point, it is impossible to say whether the President will be granted “fast track” authority to negotiate this deal or if the Trans-Pacific Partnership will ultimately occur at all. Proponents of free trade generally favor these proposals. The Washington Post reported the results of a recent Pew research center poll. That poll “found that 58% of those surveyed, including a majority of Democrats, said free trade agreements have been good for the U.S. Moreover, when Pew asked Americans to list their top priorities for the President and Congress this year, global trade ranked 23rd.”
We in the Lehigh Valley need to stay informed and take appropriate action to remain competitive in the global marketplace.
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