In South Carolina, we have seen the benefits of U.S. international trade firsthand. American trade with the world supports more than half a million jobs in our state, from family farms and small businesses to global giants like Boeing and BMW.
The Port of Charleston is one of the busiest in the nation and is still growing, and our manufacturing industry, especially in the Upstate, continues to create new jobs and career opportunities for families across the state. Earlier this year, Volvo announced they are building a new plant in Berkeley County that will bring 4,000 jobs to South Carolina, and will rely on our state’s Port and our nation’s trade agreements to import supplies and export vehicles.
Last month, the President submitted his administration’s newest trade deal – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a set of trade and investment negotiations that would expand markets in Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Through this agreement, the United States Trade Representative and the 11 other participating nations sought to develop a high quality trade agreement that would eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods, services, and agriculture, and establish rules on a wide variety of issues related to trade and economic activity.
I believe it is important for America to continue to aggressively work to open markets globally, regionally, andbilaterally to expand American opportunities in overseas markets. The current TPP countries are the fourth largest goods and services market for U.S. exports, and U.S. goods exported to Asia-Pacific countries made up nearly 60% of total goods exported in 2011, or $895 billion.
I will continue to review the more than 5,000 page text of the TPP to determine how the deal will affect South Carolina and our nation as a whole. Earlier this year I voted for Trade Promotion Authority so that the American people and Congress would have months to review any potential deal, and I intend to use this time wisely.
Given the current administration’s track record when it comes to negotiations with other nations (see: Iran deal), I am highly skeptical they were able to generate the best possible outcome for American families and businesses. I will not vote in favor of any legislation that could cede American sovereignty to a foreign entity, and I would only support a final agreement if I am convinced that it would raise international standards for trade, rather than degrade them.
Since 2003, South Carolina’s exports to countries with whom the United States has trade agreements have grown by 94 percent. Nationally, we have a trade surplus with the countries we have already entered into a trade agreement with, while we continue to have a deficit with those we do not. I am committed to working with my colleagues to remove barriers to economic growth so that American businesses can continue to succeed and Americans can return to work.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over international trade agreements.