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  July 15th, 2016 | Written by

Business Leaders Urge Action on Trans-Pacific Partnership

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  • Increasing access to international markets would enable U.S. businesses to hire more workers.
  • Rod Lemon, VP, CD Covenant, Alabama: International growth options are incredibly important for small businesses.
  • IT products are currently taxed up to 35 percent in TPP member countries.

More than 50 business leaders traveled to the White House from across the country this week to brief senior administration officials on international trade policy. Officials included Ambassador Michael Froman, the United States Trade Representative.

The meetings focused on how international trade policies, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership, will affect U.S. businesses.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between the United States and 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, is expected to reduce many of the barriers that smaller businesses face when doing business abroad. Many business leaders have said that increasing access to international markets would enable them to hire more workers to keep up with new demand.

“International growth options are incredibly important for a small business like ours that are looking to broaden their reach. As the manufacturers of high quality MRO products, we have found there is a demand for our American-made goods in international markets,” said Rod Lemon, Vice President of CD Covenant in Anniston, Alabama. “These trade agreements play a vital role in helping to pave the road for expansion, not only abroad, but in the U.S., as we bring on more key team members to help execute on our expanding operations.”

High tariffs on American-made technology products make it difficult for American businesses to compete with domestic suppliers in Asian markets. For example, IT products are taxed up to 35 percent in TPP member countries, and high-tech instruments are taxed up to 25 percent,” added Masa Ishii, managing director of AZCA, Inc. in Menlo Park. “The agreement eliminates tariffs in the member countries on products manufactured in the U.S., opening doors into markets U.S. businesses were previously unable to compete in.”

Previous trade agreements have increased economic and investment growth over the years while creating more than 15 million U.S. jobs, noted Fay Beydoun, executive director at the American Arab Chamber of Commerce in Dearborn. “If America is to stay competitive in today’s global market, we need to support trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” she added.

“Trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership would bring confidence to small businesses by refocusing U.S. small businesses towards country partners who have committed to mutually beneficial, stipulated standards; mitigating the costs of doing business in these markets, such as tariffs; and diversifying or opening new markets to mitigate local marketing costs,” commended Dr. Tendai Ndoro, Regional Director at the New Jersey Small Business Center at Rutgers University-Newark and the CEO and Co-Founder of the International SME Delegates, LLC, in Newark, New Jersey.

“To be competitive, we need the support of trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),” said Jose Alberto, President at PYCO LLC, a temperature sensor manufacturer in Fairfield, New Jersey. “TPP would allow us to not only to sell our products to our neighbors and beyond with ease, it also would allow us to keep manufacturing here in the U.S. while getting raw components at lower cost from abroad. All in all, this would let us become more competitive within the global market.”

This event is one in a series of White House fly-ins to gather input on international trade policy from business leaders. In addition to these meetings in Washington, Business Forward, an advocacy group active in over 100 U.S. cities, has organized more than 50 briefings across the country and more than one dozen conference calls where business leaders have briefed senior administration officials on international trade policy.