Trade Promotion Authority Promotes Level Playing Field, Job Creation

We believe our small businesses can compete against anyone, anywhere

By Webb Brown

We’ve made great strides in “Taking Montana to the World” the last few years. Exports of Montana goods and services last year reached over $3 billion. But that progress could be slowed or stopped if Congress doesn’t renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

TPA is vital to Big Sky Country because economic growth and job creation at home depend on our ability to sell Montana goods and services to the 95 percent of the world’s customers living outside the U.S. borders.

Nationally, one in four manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on American farms is planted for consumers overseas. In Montana, trade supports over 137,000 jobs.

Trade is especially important for Montana’s small businesses, more than 1,300 of which are exporters. Our top export markets are Canada, South Korea, China, and Mexico.

We believe our small businesses can compete against anyone, anywhere – on a level playing field. Unfortunately, the international playing field is often unfairly tilted against us. While the U.S. market is generally open to importers, our exporters face double-digit foreign tariffs and multiple nontariff barriers in many countries.

Trade agreements help tear down these barriers. For example, while our 20 existing trade agreement partners are home to just 10 percent of the world’s economy, they buy nearly half of all U.S. exports.

And if you’re worried about the trade deficit, trade agreements aren’t the problem – they’re the solution. The U.S. currently has a trade surplus, not deficit, with those partners.

TPA allows us to open more markets and opportunities. Under TPA, Congress sets negotiating objectives and requires the executive branch to consult extensively with legislators during negotiations.

Congress can and should still approve every specific trade deal – after it’s negotiated. Every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has had TPA to negotiate those deals; we think every president should have it. We appreciate that Montana’s U.S. Sen. Steve Daines agrees with us and voted to move it forward.

Without TPA, the U.S. cannot effectively negotiate new trade agreements to open foreign markets, spur economic growth, and create Montana jobs. For our own prosperity, urge Congress to renew TPA and let’s continue taking Montana to the world.

Webb Brown is the president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.