Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

A Bipartisan Opportunity for Jobs | Commentary

The Asia-Pacific region represents a tremendous opportunity to sell American-made products abroad. According to the U.S. trade representative, in 2010, 69 percent of Washington state exports and 68 percent of Ohio exports went to the Asia-Pacific region. By removing trade barriers such as high tariffs or regulatory hurdles, the TPP will only serve to increase exports further.

At the same time, the U.S. is negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would expand access to the European Union.

Europe is currently America’s largest export market, purchasing $459 billion in American-made goods that support 2.4 million jobs in the United States. We believe this agreement, if properly constructed, could be a catalyst for greater economic growth on both continents.

Passing Trade Promotion Authority will provide added leverage to negotiate agreements in a timely fashion while ensuring congressional oversight.

As President Barack Obama said, this authority will “facilitate the conclusion, approval and implementation of market-opening negotiating efforts.” Some 535 negotiators on Capitol Hill can’t carry out complex trade consultations. TPA allows the president to negotiate trade agreements, while ensuring critical congressional oversight and allowing Congress to shape those agreements’ principal negotiating objectives and priorities. These priorities include important issues such as intellectual property rights and emerging technologies, the role of state-owned enterprises and protectionist local content requirements, and labor and environmental standards. Through TPA, Congress can ensure that future trade agreements reflect the best interests of Americans. In short, Trade Promotion Authority is a symbol of the partnership that exists between the executive and legislative branches of government in developing and facilitating global exports to support American jobs.

Now is the time for Congress to push forward and lead, giving American exporters — and American jobs — the edge in the global economy.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving as congressman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the U.S. trade representative. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has served as a senator for the state of Washington since 2001. Both are members of the Senate Finance Committee.

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