At the Northern California World Trade Center, we are committed to making our region a place that actively participates in the global economy. We see firsthand the significant role that free trade agreements have on the success of our companies and workers.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership will help ensure our region has increased access to the other 11 nations in the agreement, which covers nearly 40 percent of the global economy and 800 million consumers. The agreement, now before Congress, will help expand trade between our region and free trade partners, including Australia, Canada, Mexico and Singapore. More importantly, the TPP will open markets in countries that are not free trade partners, including Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam.
Northern California manufacturers, professional service providers, farmers and ranchers face too many costly tariffs and cumbersome trade barriers when exporting their goods and services. These markets are already valuable to businesses in our region and accounted for more than 41 percent of California’s exports in 2014. With the passage of TPP, tariffs will go down, a more level playing field will be introduced and exports from Northern California will likely increase.
Increasing exports is vital to the long-term strength of our regional economy, which has historically relied on government and construction jobs. Many of our companies – especially those in communication technology, health, agriculture and manufacturing – depend on world markets. Our region’s location makes us especially well-positioned to capitalize on the growing interconnectedness of the global economy.
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The Northern California World Trade Center is doing its part to make companies more aware of an expanding export assistance network and to provide the connections businesses need to succeed internationally. Exporters often cite demanding regulations, flagrant corruption in foreign markets and complicated tariff schedules as some of the most frustrating hindrances. These issues are especially challenging for our small and medium-sized businesses.
That’s why we welcome a trade agreement that places a focus on the trade barriers that disproportionately affect small business. Trade between TPP member countries will require less paperwork, fewer customs holds, higher standards and new laws for combating corruption. Cuts in tariffs are paired with provisions to open markets. Together, these will reduce the time and cost of trade.
Multinational trade agreements require years of hard work and tough decisions. Following more than five years of negotiations, trade ministers agreed on TPP in early October. Now, Congress must decide the fate of this historic trade agreement.
If the United States is left out, other countries on the Pacific Rim will undoubtedly continue to strengthen economic ties with those in countries with whom our exporters compete. By supporting TPP, we can ensure that companies in our region can compete globally on a more level playing field.
Renée Taylor is president and CEO of the Northern California World Trade Center and can be contacted at email@example.com. Kevin Mather is the center’s incoming board chairman and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.