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Trade Opportunities Benefit South Dakota Farmers, Producers, Manufacturers

Free and fair trade plays an important role in American commerce. From higher wages for U.S. workers to supporting small businesses and agriculture, trade has a proven record of keeping our economy healthy and vibrant. In South Dakota alone, trade supports 124,000 jobs. In 2013, we exported $3.7 billion worth of products. Trade levels the playing field in the global marketplace so we have the best opportunity to promote American-made goods throughout the world. We should continually be looking for ways to increase trade opportunities.

The U.S. is currently negotiating a trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 12 other nations along the Pacific Rim. Finding an agreement with these nations, which includes important trading partners such as Australia, Canada and Japan, could boost our GDP by $77 billion annually and create 500,000 new jobs. Another agreement with European nations, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), would create as many as 750,000 new jobs. That is in addition to the 40 million jobs trade already supports in the United States.

One tool that recently passed out of the Senate Finance Committee would help us negotiate international trade agreements. Trade Promotion Authority, commonly referred to as TPA, is a tool that has been used since the days of FDR help the U.S. negotiate stronger, more enforceable international standards on trade agreements.

The TPA bill making its way through the Senate creates a stronger, more enforceable framework for Congress to exercise oversight over the Administration, giving us a stronger voice in the negotiations process. It also establishes new trade-negotiating objectives that reflect today’s economic challenges, including measures to combat currency manipulation and eliminate barriers to innovation and digital trade.

TPA strengthens our hand by giving the Senate an opportunity to guide the negotiations before a final deal is reached, rather than afterward. If the President has negotiated a good deal for our country, he then has the opportunity to take it to the Senate for an up-or-down vote. Members are not permitted to amend trade agreements, which gives other countries more confidence and certainty in the deal and the process.

Companion legislation recently passed the House Ways and Means Committee, and President Obama continues to signal his support. I expect the full Senate to consider TPA legislation in the coming weeks. This is a real step forward on policy that has had long-standing bipartisan support in Congress and from the administration, but had been held up under previous Senate leadership.

Free and fair trade agreements across the world open up new markets to South Dakota products. Our farmers and ranchers would particularly benefit from agreements such as TPP and TTIP. But in order to negotiate the best deal for our country, we must allow the administration to pursue trade agreements through parameters set by the Congress, and within the Trade Promotion Authority, to enable our current and future presidents to negotiate the best deal possible. That is exactly what the Senate TPA bill would do. This method has a proven record of boosting economic activity and bringing higher-paying American jobs. I look forward to debating TPA legislation when it comes to the full Senate in the coming weeks.