WASHINGTON — Made in America has “made a comeback” through expanded trade and exports, and should get another boost from what is expected to be a “historic year” in U.S. trade policy, according to a new report on the Obama administration’s 2016 trade agenda released Wednesday.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office outlined key trade priorities in the report that the U.S. plans to pursue this year on bilateral and multilateral fronts, as well as pending trade enforcement actions, as it continues to promote and grow U.S. exports and investment in U.S. manufacturing.
“The President’s trade agenda is focused on supporting U.S. jobs and raising wages,” said USTR Michael Froman. “Over the past seven years, the administration has fought hard to open the largest and fastest-growing markets to U.S. exports, most notably in the Asia-Pacific. Our efforts have helped position more Americans to compete — and win — in tomorrow’s global economy.”
Among the administration’s top goals this year are advancing the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership pact through Congress, completing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the European Union, and advancing other pending deals such as an Environmental Goods Agreement with 16 countries, a Trade in Services agreement and an Information Technology agreement, all within the context of the World Trade Organization.
The U.S. has added more than 900,000 manufacturing jobs since rebounding in early 2010, the report said. Manufacturing accounts for 60 percent of all U.S. research and development employees, as well as the “vast majority” of patents issued and the majority of U.S. exports.
“We’re on the cusp of something big,” Froman said in the report. “We have, within our reach, the chance to restore America’s position as a place that makes real things, and in doing so, unlock opportunity for all Americans.”
According to the report, U.S. jobs supported by exports have risen 18 percent since Obama took office in 2009. Goods and services exports have increased 41 percent, while agricultural exports are up 35 percent. Exports by small and medium businesses rose 52 percent between 2009 and 2013.
Bolstering U.S. manufacturing is directly linked to knocking down trade barriers and expanding U.S. exports, according to USTR. The sweeping TPP trade deal, which the Obama administration is strongly lobbying Congress to approve this year, could significantly boost U.S. employment if it is enacted.
The deal involves the U.S., Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Chile, Brunei and New Zealand and seeks to remove barriers of trade to encompass nearly 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.
The report notes that 4.2 million U.S. jobs were supported by exports to the TPP countries in 2013, while U.S. goods and services exports to TPP countries in 2014 were $905 billion. U.S. foreign direct investment from TPP countries in 2014 hit $722 billion.
“TPP will significantly boost U.S. exports of goods and services in some of the fastest-growing economies in the world and set high-standard trade and investment rules that will increase U.S. productivity and foster American innovation and competitiveness, support the creation and retention of high-paying jobs in the United States, and raise living standards,” said the report, adding that TPP will cut more than 18,000 import taxes on U.S. exports.
The administration is also working to complete the T-TIP negotiations with the EU this year. The total number of jobs supported by trade with the EU was 7.5 million in 2013, while goods and services exports to the EU totaled $1.1 trillion and foreign direct investment was $4.2 trillion.
“The EU is the single largest buyer of American goods and services and by far the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment in the United States,” the report said. “Through T-TIP, we can strengthen that relationship by removing barriers to exports on both sides of the Atlantic, and we can strengthen America’s attractiveness as the manufacturing site of choice, supporting hundreds of thousands of additional jobs in a vast range of industries.”
The U.S. also hopes to advance negotiations on an environmental goods agreement and expand upon the $130 billion in U.S. exports of green products. Global trade in environmental goods is at an estimated $1 trillion annually and some World Trade Organization members charge tariffs as high as 35 percent on the goods.