WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, anticipating the long-awaited introduction of presidential Trade Promotion Authority legislation in the Senate next week, released a new trade report Thursday highlighting record export growth in a state-by-state analysis.
This story first appeared in the April 10, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said on a press call Thursday that the Senate is expected to introduce TPA next week when Congress returns from a two-week break, which was welcome news to free trade advocates who have been growing concerned about gridlock on Capitol Hill.
“I am pleased the Senate is expected to introduce the trade promotion authority bill next week,” Pritzker said. “It is going to allow Congress to set high standards, objectives and priorities for U.S. trade negotiators. By opening the doors to trade and regions like the Asia Pacific, we can help companies…profiled in this report we are releasing today to hire more people at home and pay them better wages.”
TPA is seen as vital to completing several trade deals, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement negotiations between the U.S. and 11 other countries, which the administration has said it is close to completing. Under TPA, Congress can only vote up or down on a trade agreement, which gives the administration leverage with trading partners. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and European Union is another key trade negotiation underway.
In recent weeks, opposition from Democrats who are seeking changes in a TPA bill has raised concerns.
Pressed on whether she had heard a compromise had been reached in the Senate on TPA, Pritzker said the bill will be introduced early next week based on what she has heard and read.
“Obviously to do that, they’ve got to come to a consensus. We are anxiously awaiting to see the language,” she said.
The new state-by-state analysis released by Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and dubbed the “United States of Trade” is one of the centerpieces of the administration’s full court press in pushing Congress to approve TPA and TPP this year while also advancing a T-TIP with the EU.
“From coast to coast, exporters have played a critical role in growing our economy,” Pritzker said on a press call. “This new report demonstrates how trade continues to create good, paying jobs across the country by profiling small- and medium-size business in all 50 states who are using exports to expand their businesses,” she said adding that more than 304,000 U.S. companies are exporters and nearly 98 percent of those are small- to medium-size businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said: “In this report we are issuing today, we are working to show both the scale and importance of the trade relationship for every state.
“This report also tells the story of American small businesses that will benefit from tearing down trade barriers in markets around the globe, this is where we see a lot of opportunity for growth and more trade-supported jobs. With the Trans-Pacific Partnership we have a once-in-a-generation chance to unleash the economic potential of American small businesses and to level the playing field for our workers,” Froman said.
He noted that U.S. exports hit a record-high for the fifth year in a row last year, reaching $2.35 trillion and supporting 11.7 million jobs.
“That’s an increase of 1.8 million jobs since 2009,” Froman said.
The 112-page report gives a snapshot of export-related trade in all 50 states, breaks out top export industries, the number of jobs supported by exports, the percentage of exports each state is currently doing with TPP partner countries and EU countries and provides a company highlight for each state.
Companies in California, for example, exported a total of $174.1 billion in 2014, supporting 775,320 jobs. Exports to TPP countries totaled $71.8 billion and exports to EU countries totaled $29.6 billion.
New York state exported $86 billion in products last year, $22 billion of which went to the 11 TPP partner countries and $18.8 billion of which went to EU countries.
The report only included one sector example of apparel and textiles exports by state, noting that North Carolina exported $2 billion in textiles and fabrics last year and $328 million worth of cotton.
Total U.S. apparel exports to the world rose 3.8 percent to $6.1 billion for the year ending February 28, while total textile exports rose 2.8 percent to $18.3 billion, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles and Apparel.
The report detailed several states with cotton exports, including Alabama, which exported $227 million worth of cotton, Arizona, $219 million, Georgia, $1 billion, Louisiana, $111 million, Mississippi, $327 million, South Carolina, $170 million and Tennessee, $250 million.
Auburn Leather Company, a manufacturer specializing in rawhide leather laces for footwear, specialty leathers for sporting goods and finished leather goods was highlighted on the Kentucky state page. The company said it exported $14.6 million to 29 countries last year, including to four TPP countries: Vietnam, Mexico, Canada and Japan.
“Auburn Leather Company could benefit from the elimination of tariffs on its products and streamlined regulations as a result of TPP and T-TIP,” the company said in the report.