America can reverse this trend and potentially boost our exports by hundreds of billions of dollars. These increased exports could very likely support millions of good-paying American jobs and would provide an important boost to other efforts to assist our domestic workforce. To achieve these ends, we'll need to aggressively use global trade rules to win an equal shot for U.S. exports.
This will require that we continue stepped-up efforts to bring trade cases against Asian trade barriers that violate global rules. And it will mean advancing tough, comprehensive trade deals to pry open Asia-Pacific markets while better positioning our domestic workforce, as well as our farmers, manufacturers and service companies of all sizes, to seize abundant opportunities in Asia.
That's the goal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that the United States is negotiating with key Asia-Pacific trading partners.
For decades, American consumers drove the rapid expansion of Asia's export-oriented economies. Now, Asia is poised to play an enlarged role as a buyer in the global economy, as its consumers and businesses become huge importers and add significantly to world demand.
The United States needs to use trade rules to assure that Asia's buyers can "buy American." If we can do this, growing tallies of exports to Asia will make the economic arithmetic add up for America, leading to a stronger economy and a more prosperous middle class here at home.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) is ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. Ed Gerwin is senior fellow for trade at Third Way.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.