Thank you for contacting me regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.
In general, I have been supportive of free trade agreements, which have helped Virginia's economy grow over the last decade. According to the Business Roundtable, from 2004-2014 Virginia's goods exports to free trade agreement (FTA) partners increased by 79%, compared to a 47% growth in exports to the rest of the world. The 2004 U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement enabled Singapore to become the fastest-growing market among the major buyers of Virginia's goods, with Virginia's exports to the country growing 783% between 2004 and 2011.
During the 114th Congress, the Senate has considered a series of four trade-related packages: the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)-Generalized System of Preference (GSP), Customs Enforcement, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The AGOA-GSP bill is a way for the U.S. to spur economic growth in developing economies and these programs have been proven to boost economies around the world. Strong customs enforcement ensures that the U.S. can take strong action against countries and companies who seek an unfair advantage against American manufacturers and competitors. The Trade Adjustment Assistance Package will help American workers who have lost their jobs due to trade get training and education for today’s globalized economy. Finally, TPA allows a trade agreement that meets explicit negotiating objectives ranging from human rights to environmental standards to benefit from an expedited process in Congress. In June of 2015, the Senate passed TPA, TAA, and AGOA-GSP, and the President signed these bills into law. On February 11, 2016, the Senate agreed to customs enforcement legislation (the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015) by a vote of 75-20, and the President signed it into law on February 24, 2016. I voted for all four of these measures, which taken together will protect American workers and allow the U.S. to set the rules of the road in global trade.
Congress is also expected to consider the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed FTA among the United States and eleven other countries released by the Administration on November 5, 2015. If approved by Congress, it would be the largest FTA in which the United States participates. The agreement, which would eventually eliminate all tariffs on manufactured products and most agricultural goods, is a key element of our ongoing efforts to boost American exports and level the playing field in the growing markets of the Asia-Pacific–a region that includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies.
In 2014, Virginia exported $6.7 billion in goods to TPP partners–representing 35% of all goods exported in that year. By reducing tariffs for key products grown or manufactured in Virginia, the agreement has the potential to boost the Virginia economy and support jobs in the Commonwealth. I was also pleased to see that the Administration negotiated an agreement that contains both high labor standards and comprehensive environmental commitments.
While trade agreements have the ability to break down barriers and open up huge opportunities for America, it is very important to me that we do more as a country to make sure the benefits of trade agreements and international commerce are more evenly distributed. I understand why some people have expressed concerns about trade agreements. In the past, some states have done very well under trade deals, while others have not. Most of Virginia has been lucky to be on the winning end of trade, but in the past some areas, like Southside Virginia, have not seen the same benefits. That is why I am a strong advocate for onshoring initiatives that bring jobs to the United States and greater economic engagement between foreign-owned companies and rural America. In the 112th Congress, I joined my Virginia colleague, Representative Frank Wolf, in sponsoring bipartisan legislation called America Recruits, which would support new inbound investment into the United States. I reintroduced this legislation in October 2013.
It is critical that we not lose sight of the fact that many of our competitors, ranging from Canada and the European Union to China, India, and Brazil are signing market access agreements and trade deals as quickly as possible. They understand the value of securing favorable terms for their goods and services in an increasingly globalized world. With 95% of the world's consumers living outside the United States, gaining access to international markets is vital for future economic growth, which is why I support reasonable trade deals that open markets for businesses and create opportunities for American employees.
Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at http://www.warner.senate.gov.
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator