To Trade or Not To Trade

The Florida Chamber of Commerce was in Washington, D.C. recently addressing many issues including international trade. Trade and free trade agreements were one of the key issues during the presidential campaign. President-elect Trump was particularly emphatic in his opposition to the TPP and his calls for a review of NAFTA as well as our trade relationship with China.

For decades, free trade agreements have been part of our economic tool kit  and international trade is one of the leading factors attributed to Florida’s economic recovery. Two and a half million Floridians are employed thanks to international trade. Our record-breaking tourism numbers benefit from international visitors and there are thousands of foreign companies operating in Florida that employ Floridians.

 

So What Happens Now?

It is all but certain that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is no longer on the table. Our partners in the region still hope to revive trade talks with the U.S. and many are willing to reopen TPP and make revisions which might make it more palatable to the new administration. This weekend at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Lima, Peru, the future of trade and the role the U.S. would play in Asia was a top concern. China and Russia issued a statement that they will push for a free-trade area in the Asia-Pacific region. Neither country was part of the TPP.

China is pushing to finalize its parallel free trade agreement in Asia, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes all the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries plus Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, India, but it currently excludes the U.S.

 

Not Anti-Trade. Pro “Good Deals.”

From our meetings in Washington, D.C., it was clear that it was too soon to tell regarding the fate of many trade issues. Reviewing trade policy will be one of the first tasks tackled by the new administration. Re-negotiating and/or withdrawing from NAFTA as well as pulling the plug on TPP were at the top of the list. Trade would not be off the table completely however, and there is a greater appetite for bilateral trade agreements over the larger multi-nation deals like TPP. Should the U.S. withdraw from NAFTA, the new administration has proposed it would negotiate separate bilateral deals with Mexico and Canada. China and currency manipulation were also topics discussed in D.C.

It is also important to note that in 2015, Congress granted the President Trade Promotion Authority – or “fast track” – power for the President to negotiate trade agreements and move them more swiftly through Congress until 2018 and it could be extended until 2021.

 

Fair Trade, Not Just Free Trade – Leveling the Playing Field

Much like during the campaign, the new administration has outlined that they will be working to ensure agreements are enforced and that our trade partners are not engaging in “harmful” practices. They will also be reviewing country of origin labeling and environmental and safety standards, as well as considering the impacts trade policy has on the middle class, manufacturing and workers, and foreign direct investment.

The Florida Chamber will continue to monitor developments and we will be working in the in the best interest of Florida’s businesses to support trade agreements that help our exporters access the global market place and provide our workers access to high-wage jobs.

These discussions and more will be a key part of the conversation at the Florida Chamber’s 2017 International Days, Feb. 14 and 15 in Tallahassee. Be sure to join us by registering today!

For Florida, the TPP is More Than Just Another Free trade Agreement

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries which currently represent 40 percent of all global trade.

Free trade has been under attack lately. It seems that everywhere you turn – newspapers, the Presidential campaigns, the streets of some faraway place or the internet – you will find an image of someone holding up an anti-TPP sign.

It must be acknowledged that trade has not benefited everyone and its gains have not been shared by all industry sectors. Some have suffered while others have prospered. Jobs have moved away to never return and some communities have been forever scared by those losses. Not all have enjoyed the advantages that trade brings.

We must be more mindful of this as trade and increased competition will be stressful to some communities that have not yet reaped its rewards. It is up to us, the champions of trade, to also champion measures to mitigate its impacts and offset losses.

Trade, none the less, is part of our economic reality and our daily lives. It is how oranges and grapefruit from Central Florida arrive at a Japanese grocery store, it’s how medical devices made in North Florida end up in operating rooms around the world, it is how we are able to order last minute gifts at a click of a button and how we send our loved ones flowers on Valentines’ Day. Our lives depend on trade and we benefit from it without even thinking about it.

Trade is one of our most important tools for economic growth and it provides a level playing field for our exporters to access 95 percent of the global marketplace. It brings foreign direct investment which provides employment for thousands of Floridians. Trade is a multiplier, catalyzing many industry sectors that directly and indirectly benefit from it.

For Florida, the TPP means securing and having greater integration with our most important consumer and trade partner- Latin America. It is a marriage forged by geography, history and culture. A marriage that has benefited Florida in immeasurable ways. The TPP will only enhance it.

This agreement would not only strengthen this partnership and provide us greater access to markets where we are less competitive, but it will further limit competition from bad actors and reduce their influence in a region that is not only significant to us economically but strategically as well. Its ratification and implementation would serve to crystalize a crucial relationship and open the door to other Latin American partners who will, in turn, improve their standards to gain entry.

With 50 percent of our state’s trade going to Latin America, Florida’s Congressional leadership should be at the forefront of championing trade and greater integration with the region. The Florida Chamber recognizes this special relationship and its importance to securing our future.

Join us in promoting and supporting the TPP during this congressional recess. Let us know if your company would be willing to sign-on to or send a letter and/or if you would be willing to contact your member of Congress. Contact me at  aancona@flchamber.com or at 850-521-1210.

Florida Senate Passes Resolution in Support of Trade Partnerships

In a move to signal Florida’s support of increased trade with Europe, the Florida Senate has passed a resolution that will support the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), a valuable trade agreement between the United States and European Union.

SB 1776, sponsored by Senator Garrett Richter (R-Naples), supports the negotiations, which if successful, will create the world’s largest free trade zone, accounting for 60 percent of global production.

Free Trade Agreements (FTA) have been a positive force for economic development and Florida has much to gain from these negotiations. In fact, 17 percent of Florida’s economy is dependent on free trade.

We commend Sen. Richter and the Florida Senate for their commitment to making Florida a leader in global trade. The Florida Chamber will continue to keep you up-to-date with the latest news on trade negotiations and opportunities for Florida companies to expand their business abroad.

Learn More About the Impacts of Global Trade in Florida