Recently I sat down with Democratic Congressman Jim Costa of California and Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen of Minnesota to discuss one of the few issues that remain bipartisan on Capitol Hill—trade.
Increased exports from the U.S. over the past five years have been responsible for one-third of the country’s economic growth. Last year, exports of goods and services reached a record high of $2.3 trillion. America’s exports to its 20 free trade agreement partners have risen by 57 percent in the past five years, whereas they rose just 44 percent for the rest of the world.
U.S. negotiators are continuing to hash out details of two significant and new trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Taken together, the countries participating in TPP and TTIP account for two-thirds of global GDP and half of global trade, and have a combined market of 1.3 billion consumers. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. exports already go to TPP or TTIP partners, and 84 percent of foreign direct investment comes from them. By 2018, TPP and TTIP markets are estimated to grow by $6.7 trillion. At the conclusion of both negotiations, the United States would enjoy liberalized trade with almost two-thirds of the global economy.
While Democrats and Republicans have historically coalesced around trade agreements that hold great promise for increasing U.S. exports and jobs, there is a limited window of opportunity to see the Obama administration and Congress, as well as the United States and its trading partners in Asia and Europe, land on the same page.