Powered by its energy sector, Texas leads the nation in exports. Shipping out $326 billion worth of goods and services has driven the Lone Star State’s economy past California, which ranks second in outbound trade.
Though conservatives and liberals in the U.S. House are fighting an expanded trade program, Texas stands to benefit from passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, says Karla Jones, director of international relations for the American Legislative Exchange Council.
“Over 20% of Texas employment — 3 million jobs — is related to trade,” Jones told Watchdog.org in an interview. “Market share helps, and Texas is in a good position.”
The bulk of Texas exports involve petroleum to Mexico, but services count, too. The state is earning more income via the financial services and travel sectors with Canada.
Both countries belong to the emerging 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trading group that specifically omits China. Jones says Beijing is excluded because it has the world’s “worst intellectual property enforcement” and a large percentage of state-owned enterprises.
“[TPP] holds countries to higher standards — it levels the playing field on labor standards and intellectual property. It puts a U.S. footprint in the region,” she said.
Some members of Congress aren’t buying the trade agreement, which contains “fast-track” authority for the White House.
Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., said the legislation “only gives Congress an up or down vote on whatever final agreement the president submits — without any amendments.”
Brat, an economist who ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has long advocated for free markets and free trade, but he said he was leaning against fast-tracking legislation. Said Brat:
Under any other president, you wouldn’t have near as much question about the trade authority part, because you do want to form this nexus of countries working together and carving out a huge agreement that would be good for all nations. But trust is at the heart of it, and that’s sadly lacking right now.
Jones countered that Congress – ‘’with parameters” — has granted similar executive trade powers to the White House, dating back to the Franklin Roosevelt administration. “If you don’t, you won’t get agreements,” she said.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, told the Hill:
In its current form, the 1,000-page TPP would outsource good jobs, degrade global environmental and working standards and allow investor rights to overrun the rights of workers. The TPP is also packed with special-interest perks, thanks to the more than 600 transnational corporations that weighed in on, and in some case wrote, the agreement in secret.
Like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement before it, it does not open closed foreign markets, nor does it deal with discriminatory border taxes that increase the costs of importing U.S. products and decrease the cost of foreign exports.
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said trade agreements have lifted the U.S. economy. According to the Commerce Department, since mid-2009, nearly one-third of America’s economic growth has been driven by exports and almost 30,000 U.S. businesses began exporting for the first time.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says that more than 38 million American jobs are supported by international trade imports and exports, and 11.7 million of these jobs are supported by exports alone.
Texas has led the expansion, with more companies jumping into the export arena, as the state has outpaced the nation in job growth over the past decade.
Jones acknowledges that trade deals can create upheaval in the American workplace.
“It doesn’t mean some people won’t be displaced. The solution isn’t to absent us from globalization that is already here,” she said, predicting, that the other 11 Pacific nations will negotiate TPP themselves if the United States opts out.
Read more by Kenric Ward at Watchdog.com.