Washington state has long served as a hub of trade for the Pacific Northwest and the across the United States. Our trade infrastructure supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and sends American made goods and services across the globe.
Unfortunately, due to protectionist trade barriers, there are many instances where our exporters do not have full access to the new and emerging markets in places like Asia. In order to continue to thrive in the increasingly competitive international economy, we need our representatives to advocate for our businesses and push for swift passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Here in Tacoma, we have a keen interest in international trade. As the CEO of the World Trade Center Tacoma, I hear from our businesses leaders regularly about the struggles they face getting their products into foreign markets and how important trade is for their day to day operations. After all, Tacoma is home to the second largest container port on the West Coast, which makes trade all the more vital for our residents.
Throughout Tacoma and Washington, businesses of all sizes would undoubtedly see numerous benefits following the passage of the TPP.
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The advantages of the TPP would be seen in increased imports and exports, which would mean more opportunity for our community here in Pierce County tasked with receiving and shipping them. Marine cargo operations in Washington create nearly $4.3 billion in economic activity and generate $379 million in local taxes that support local police, fire, schools, and other vital services.
It would be a costly mistake to let this opportunity be delayed. We need the TPP this year.
Furthermore, the TPP will allow our businesses to send goods to growing markets like Vietnam and Singapore. With TPP-participating economies accounting for 40 percent of the global GDP, the U.S. cannot miss the opportunity to have American-made products readily available in these markets.
Currently, many of the 11 other signers have trade barriers and tariffs on American products, making them less competitive. By breaking down these unfair practices, goods ranging from food to technology will now be able to compete on a level playing field in the global marketplace.
The future of Washington’s economy is undeniably tied to trade. We need Congress to come together, quickly pass the TPP and allow the full potential of our businesses to be unleashed on the global market.
Washington is proud of the produce we grow and the products we make, and we want the ability to fully trade our goods freely across the world. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow us to do this.
A new poll from the Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT) indicates that 54 percent of Washington voters support the TPP. WCIT President Eric Schinfeld rightly observed, “While media coverage of trade during this election season has been overwhelmingly negative, today’s Washington state poll results reflect the reality that a clear majority of voters support the TPP for its ability to open up new markets to American-made goods and services and level the playing field for our exporters and workers.”
I could not agree more. Washington can’t afford to miss this opportunity. It’s time to act in the interest of the business community and thousands of American workers dependent on trade and work together to finalize this important trade deal.
Louise Tieman is CEO of the World Trade Center Tacoma.