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!

Florida Chamber Supports Trans-Pacific Partnership American Trade Policy

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Florida’s current business agenda puts jobs, growth and economic opportunity in the driver’s seat. Florida has been able to grow our economy exponentially due to a smart and business-friendly environment. The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) American trade policy as it will have a significant impact on the strength of our economy and the lives of Floridians.

The TPP agreement will provide Florida with the opportunity to increase goods and services trade with emerging markets across the globe. It will accomplish this by removing several challenges that our businesses face when they attempt to bring their goods to international markets. This monumental trade deal will create a level playing field between U.S. companies of all sizes with some of our strongest trading partners.

Florida already has good trade ties with several of the TPP countries. Florida exported $1.6 billion in goods and $3.3 billion in services in 2014 to these countries. The TPP will remove nearly 18,000 tariffs American businesses face, which will undoubtedly increase exports tot he TPP partner countries.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Canadian and Japanese companies alone employed approximately 57,200 employees  in Florida in 2013. More than 1,300 Florida businesses are subsidiaries of companies based in TPP countries, serving as an important source of business investment and job creation in the state. Statewide there are nearly 942,000 jobs supported by the TPP trade in Florida.

Florida will benefit from the opportunities created by the TPP and we encourage Congress and the President to enact legislation that will implement it.

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 or at 850-521-1210.

TPP – What Happened in Maui?

When the Trade Ministers from the 12 nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) met at the end of July in Maui, the expectations were high that a final TPP agreement would be reached.  The U.S., armed with recently passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), was finally in a position to close the deal.

“Florida families and businesses are winners today with the decision by the U.S. House to support international trade efforts,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass TPA. “We commend the members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation for voting to support TPA, supporting pro-business legislation that will create high-wage jobs, boost trade and make Florida more globally competitive.”

But despite support, talks in Maui broke down.

Eight years in the making, the TPP is touted as a 21st century deal, consisting of the “gold standard” for policies in areas such as: pharmaceuticals, clean energy, and environmental standards.  But it was hampered by the same issues that have been the linchpin in prior deals: agriculture, intellectual property rights and greater market access.

The Florida Chamber-backed TPP will help make Florida more globally competitive by providing Florida exporters and importers more opportunities to do business. The trade agreement seeks to lower trade barriers that stand in the way of competitive economies and to help enhance trade and investment.

While there were many advances accomplished in Maui, failure to come to a conclusion could mean that the next round of negotiations would push U.S. ratification right into a 2016 presidential election year and a tough political climate.

For Florida, a state that makes up 60 percent of the nation’s exporters, break downs in talks means businesses who are unable to successfully do trade with TPP countries, which include growing nations such as Chile and Peru.


Get Involved:

On September 9-10, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is hosting a legislative “Fly-In” in Washington, D.C. where we will meet with policymakers, agencies, and partners, such as the U.S. Chamber to provide perspective on how federal policies are impacting job creators in Florida. If you are a Florida Chamber board member and are interested in joining us, please contact Alice Ancona, Director of Global Outreach.. Your participation will provide an unparalleled opportunity to influence decision makers in Washington, D.C. and will be a key opportunity to ensure that the voice of business is heard.