World Trade Month: A Good Time to Think About the Benefits of Trade
The month of May is “World Trade Month” and an appropriate time to reflect on how international trade benefits the United States. According to the Trade Benefits America Coalition, over 38.1 million American jobs are supported by international trade – exports and imports. And it’s not just international trade; it is also the foreign companies that invest in the United States, which employ 3.5 million Americans. This year the U.S. Commerce Department announced that for a fourth straight year the United States has set a record for annual exports, with 2013 exports totally $2.3 trillion. These statistics and others help to underscore why international trade and investment are integral to the continued growth and success of the U.S. economy.
International trade and investment are also critical to the telecommunications sector. While the U.S. telecommunications market remains the largest in the world, over 75 percent of the global market is outside of the United States, so exports are important. In 2013, U.S exports of telecommunications equipment totaled $39.7 billion, and key to these exports are the trade agreements that the U.S. government negotiates, which demonstrate just how beneficial high-standard, market-opening trade agreements can be. Our trade agreements help the U.S. telecommunications sector punch above its weight in terms of exports. According to TIA’s Market Forecast & Review, about 39 percent of U.S. telecommunications equipment exports go to countries for which we have a trade agreement, while these countries account for only about 13 percent of the total overseas economy.
There are some actions that can be taken this year that will expand U.S. access to overseas markets. One of the most significant will be Congressional renewal of Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, which helps to define the critical constitutional relationship between Congress and the President with respect to foreign commerce by giving U.S. trade negotiators guidelines to pursue and complete new, market opening trade agreements. It also enhances Congressional input through the development of negotiating priorities and oversight over the process. Renewal of TPA will need to be a joint effort between Congress and the Administration, and I am encouraged to see that both have signaled a willingness to work together towards this important goal.
With a number of trade agreements under negotiation and some close to being concluded, the United States has a busy trade agenda this year, and that is a good thing for our continued economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness. So let’s all take a moment to celebrate World Trade Month!