A Trade Deal for Working Families
As president, my top priority is to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class. When I took office, America was in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression -- but thanks to the hard work and resilience of the American people, our businesses have created 13.5 million jobs over the past 68 months, the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. The unemployment rate has been cut nearly in half -- lower than it’s been in more than seven years. We have come back further and faster from recession than nearly every other advanced nation on Earth.
That’s real progress. But as any middle-class family will tell you, we have more to do. That’s why I believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership is so important. It’s a trade deal that helps working families get ahead.
At a time when 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, this agreement will open up new markets to made-in-America goods and services. Today, exports support 11.7 million American jobs. Companies that sell their goods around the world tend to grow faster, hire more employees and pay higher salaries than companies that don’t. On average, export-supported jobs pay up to 18 percent more than other jobs.
These are good jobs -- and this agreement will lead to even more of them. It would eliminate more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on made-in-America products. For instance, last year, we exported $89 billion in automotive products alone to TPP countries, many of which have soaring tariffs -- more than 70 percent in some cases -- on made-in-America products. Our farmers and ranchers, whose exports account for roughly 20 percent of all farm income, face similarly high tariffs. Thanks to the TPP, those taxes will drop drastically, most of them to zero. That means more U.S. exports supporting more higher-paying American jobs.
At a time when our workers too often face an unfair playing field, this agreement also includes the highest labor standards of any trade deal in history. Provisions protecting worker safety and prohibiting child labor make sure that businesses abroad play by the same kinds of rules we have here at home. Provisions protecting the environment and combating wildlife trafficking make sure that economic growth doesn’t come at the expense of the only planet we call home. And these commitments are enforceable -- meaning we can hold other countries accountable through trade sanctions if they don’t follow through. So, these tough new rules level the playing field, and when American workers have a fair chance to compete, I believe they’ll win every time.
I’ve said many times that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the right thing for our economy, for working Americans and for our middle class. But I’m not asking you to take my word for it. Instead, I’ve posted the agreement online. If you build cars in places such as Detroit, you can see for yourself how your products will have a better shot of hitting the road in places such as Japan. If you’re a farmer or rancher, you’ll see how your products will face fewer barriers abroad. If you’re a small-business owner, you’ll see how this agreement will mean less paperwork and less red tape.
Along with the text of the agreement, we've posted detailed materials to help explain it. It’s an unprecedented degree of transparency -- and it’s the right thing to do. Not every American will support this deal, and neither will every member of Congress. But I believe that in the end, the American people will see that it is a win for our workers, our businesses and our middle class. And I expect that, after the American people and Congress have an opportunity for months of careful review and consultation, Congress will approve it, and I’ll have the chance to sign it into law.
Together, we’ve overcome enormous obstacles over the past seven years. We’ve taken an economy that was in free fall and returned it to steady growth and job creation. And we’ve put ourselves in a position to restore America’s promise not only now, but for decades to come. That’s what I believe this agreement will help us do.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
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Mary Duenwald at email@example.com