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Treasury Notes

 Why Free Trade Agreements Matter

By: Lael Brainard
10/21/2011

U.S. exports are playing a much greater role in today’s economic recovery and in creating American jobs than in previous recoveries.  Currently, American exports are growing at a rate four times that of our economy, and, over the past year, our exports of goods and services have accounted for 60 percent of the growth in our gross domestic product.
 
President Obama today signed an important trade package that not only will ensure new market access abroad for U.S. goods and services exports but also provide important protections for U.S. workers at a critical time in our economic recovery.  The trade agreements with Korea, Panama, and Colombia will level the playing field and create new opportunities for our workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers.  We know that when U.S. workers and firms are given the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, they can win and thrive based on their hard work and ingenuity, and this package does just that.
 
While we create new, well-paying jobs in U.S. export industries, we also must ensure that displaced workers can benefit from temporary assistance that will allow them to remain productive members of our economy at a time of heightened unemployment.  That is why we are pleased with the renewal of a robust Trade Adjustment Assistance Program (TAA), following a longstanding bipartisan tradition dating back to President John F. Kennedy and that was echoed by President Obama and supported by this Congress.  TAA will provide improved training and affordable health insurance options for workers adversely affected by imports of goods or services, and create new benefits for trade-affected communities.
 
In the months ahead, we will build on these successes through our efforts to build a Trans-Pacific Partnership and through the National Export Initiative.  We will grow our economy and create new jobs by expanding exports, welcoming foreign investments, including through the SelectUSA initiative, and maintaining U.S. global leadership in advancing rules-based international trade.
 
Lael Brainard is Treasury’s Under Secretary for International Affairs.
Posted in:  International
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