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Support signing of TPP

US: Washington exporters seek more foreign market access

The future of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S. and 11 other nations remains uncertain. Business groups across the country and in Washington state continue to lobby for a fall vote on the measure, and the 12 Asia-Pacific signatory nations announced this week in Tokyo that they will stand by the pact as drafted and press for internal political approvals.

The trade agreement would have a significant impact for Washington, one of the most trade-dependent states in the country, by cutting 18,000 taxes levied on U.S. exports. About 40 percent of Washington jobs are directly or indirectly tied to trade.

A recent study by the Association of Washington Business (AWB) found that TPP economic benefits to Washington would include $8.7 billion a year in new state exports, raising the annual state total to $121.6 billion. It would also add anywhere from 5,900 to 26,400 additional jobs statewide.

In 2015 alone, Washington exports to TPP countries alone amounted to $25.4 billion in products and around $5.6 billion in services, according to the AWB report. The 11 TPP countries in addition to the U.S. are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The importance of free trade to Washington employers was the topic of a podcast last week hosted by Mary Strow of the Washington Research Council (WRC), and featuring Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.

DeVaney told Strow that apples are the number one commodity in the state, and one third of them are exported. The Washington apple industry provides 40,000 jobs.

DeVaney said, “when we talk about trade agreements and gaining access to foreign markets, it’s really all upside for our exporters. It’s leveling the playing field for our producers who are right now seeing the U.S. market being open to foreign competitors, but we might not be able to access those foreign markets as fairly.”

Trade agreements create consistent, across-the-board rules and standards, rather than different policies depending on the country, and provide future market access certainty to those countries, he added.

“What people often forget is that there are other countries that grow apples too,” DeVaney said. “We do have to maintain some range of financial competitiveness relative to those other products.”

Stemilt Growers Owner West Mathison said, “We feel TPP will directly benefit rural family farms as we expand markets and reduce trade barriers.”

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