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Trans-Pacific Partnership means more opportunities for Oregon workers January 2016
By Mitch Hornecker

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fantastic holiday. As we kick off 2016, the Portland Business Alliance Board of Directors is excited to announce its official endorsement of a major new federal trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The importance of trade to Oregon’s economy was a predominant theme in the Alliance’s work in 2015, and it will continue to be a priority in 2016 as ratification of the TPP hopefully goes before Congress.

Last year, President Obama concluded negotiations on the TPP, a trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 nations in the Pacific Rim. Congress must now approve the TPP, and the Alliance is joining business organizations across the nation to urge ratification because of the importance of trade to maintain and grow middle income jobs here in Oregon.

Importantly, the TPP nations are already valuable trading partners for our state. In fact, 44 percent of Oregon’s goods exports in 2014 went to TPP nations, and 88 percent of the Oregon companies exporting to these countries were small or medium-sized companies. The potential of the TPP to broaden and deepen existing relationships will only bring greater opportunity for Oregon workers.  

There are more Oregonians who owe their livelihoods to international trade than ever before. They are manufacturers, farmworkers, software developers, graphic designers and shipyard workers, to name just a few. Trade sustains our entire economy and provides tax revenue for vital government services. It also puts more money in the pockets of Oregon workers, helping them afford a home and support their family. Oregon’s ability to sell its goods and services around the world is vital to maintaining and improving our quality of life.

The 12 signatory TPP nations represent two-fifths of the global economy. This new trade pact will set the rules for Trans-Pacific commerce, opening new markets for American exports. The TPP contains important improvements to existing trade agreements. For starters, it provides stronger protections for workers and the environment in the 11 Pacific Rim signatory countries and includes enforcement provisions that will hold all of the countries accountable. It also includes strong intellectual property protections for Oregon companies creating software, apparel, and other goods with significant brand value. Finally, it establishes new requirements to promote transparent, non-discriminatory treatment of electronic commerce in our digital economy. It is an agreement that will strengthen and modernize trade rules for everybody involved.

At the Oregon Leadership Summit in December, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who has been a major champion of trade legislation, spoke to the importance of a Trans-Pacific trade deal for Oregon. “The world is craving Oregon products. They want to buy what you all make. They want to buy our computers. They want to buy our bicycles. They want to buy our fruit and wine. Let’s make sure that we have a modern trade policy, a policy with trade done right that protects our workers and protects our businesses.”

We agree, Senator Wyden.

On behalf of the Alliance board, we’re proud to support this trade pact because of its potential unprecedented positive impact to our community. The future of Oregon depends on our ability to expand overseas markets so businesses like yours can compete globally and our workers can find new customers. I hope you will join me in urging Oregon’s congressional delegation to support the TPP.

To learn more about the TPP, go to www.ustr.gov, and to learn more about international trade and its significance to Oregon’s economy, visit www.tradeinoregon.com.
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