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New Reports Highlight Benefits of Expanded U.S. Trade Policy

February 12, 2015

The results are in, and experts across the political spectrum agree: Trade is good for America.

First, theres a new report from the center-left organization, Third Way, which concludes that nearly all recent trade deals have improved our balance of trade in goods, and in the aggregate the gains have been substantial.1

The authors note that because the U.S. consistently runs large surpluses in services, they focused on goods to sharpen the analysis. Further, they looked only at post–2000 trade deals, which are typically negotiated to higher standards (which makes them more informative for the purposes of evaluating TPP).

Among their key findings:

  • For 13 of 17 countries, the balance of trade in goods improved for the United States after implementation of the free trade agreement (FTA).”
  • In the aggregate for all 17 countries, the balance of trade for goods improved after implementation by an average of $30.2 billion per year in 2014 dollars.
  • Goods exports increased by 52.0% on an average annual basis after implementation; Imports in goods increased by only 25.6%.”
  • In 2014, the U.S. had a $30.9 billion surplus in the goods trade with these 17 countries. In the final full year before each FTA implementation, the U.S. ran a $2.8 billion goods deficit with these same countries (in 2014 dollars).2

Similarly, a new report from the Chamber of Commerce highlights the success of our trade agreements in supporting American workers, families, and businesses. The report brings together research from across the spectrum to provide a clearer picture of the benefits of trade.  

The authors find that:

  • The United States ran a trade surplus with our trade-agreement partners in both 2012 and 2013.
  • Increased trade with trade-agreement partners supported 5.4 million American jobs.
  • Annual exports increase 18 percent on average after a new trade-agreement is signed, almost three times as much growth than the average over 2000–2010.
  • Trade-agreement partners bought 48 percent of all American manufactured exports.
  • Between 2003 and 2013, farm and food products exports to trade-agreement partners increased over 130 percent.
  • About 40 percent of all goods exports by American small businesses go to our trade-agreement partners.

As Chairman Ryan said last week, The American worker can compete with anybody—if given a fair chance. And only a trade agreement can give you that fair chance. And the first step to getting more trade agreements that work for America is to pass trade promotion authority.

1Kessler and Horowitz (2015), Are Modern Trade Deals Working? Third Way, page 1.