By Len Bracken
March 10 — Local city officials have had the “best seat in the house” to observe the benefits of U.S. trade agreements, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said March 10, citing export figures for several metropolitan areas and for an electrical firm in Indiana.
Exports of financial services from Charlotte, N.C., directly create more than 30,000 jobs and over $10 billion in export value, he told the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference. He said that Minneapolis exported $17 billion in goods and services, supporting 100,000 jobs.
He did not specify a year in those examples, but said Wichita, Kan., exported more than $3 billion in transportation equipment in 2010.
Froman specifically cited the benefits of two trade agreements to Flanders Inc., a medium-sized electrical manufacturing and services firm in Evansville, Ind.
“In 2007, they decided to expand their business to international customers and our trade agreement with Chile played a major role in their decision to start exporting,” he said. “Without tariffs and non-tariff barriers they could compete on the merits of their hard work and the quality of their products.”
The firm also began exporting to Australia, he said, noting that as exports grew, employment increased to 700 employees.
“Whether you're on Main Street in Portland or on Peach Street in Atlanta, a family farm in South Dakota or a factory floor in South Carolina, trade touches your community in a positive way,” Froman said.
In the context of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, he said passage of trade promotion authority legislation is critical. The bicameral legislation, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, includes congressional objectives for trade agreements and fast-track voting procedures that ensure votes on implementing legislation takes place within strict deadlines and without amendments.
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