The release yesterday of ACC’s latest exports report, “Fueling Export Growth: U.S. Net Export Trade Forecast for Key Chemistries to 2030,” painted a bright picture for exports of chemicals linked to the shale gas revolution. But what stood out to me even more than the numbers themselves was that our industry’s massive growth potential largely depends on establishing a robust 21st century trade policy agenda – and committing fully to its implementation.
Advancing and successfully concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are important first steps. It’s well established that the potential impact of these pending agreements would be significant: it would lead to more job growth, boost innovation, improve industry competitiveness, and if done correctly, ensure long-term growth and prosperity.
A vital prerequisite to pursuing a comprehensive trade agenda is securing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA is a necessary tool to achieve meaningful trade agreements that stimulate economic growth and result in greater consumer choice. It ensures that completed agreements will be subject to an up or down vote in Congress. This is important because, in the absence of TPA, negotiating partners are unlikely to put their best offers on the table, knowing that Congress remove items from the agreement that made those offers possible.
An additional fundamental component of a pro-competitive agenda is ensuring the re-authorization of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB). Businesses all across the U.S. depend on MTB as a means put an end to unnecessary tariffs on imported materials for further manufacturing. According to the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) economic impact assessment of the MTB, failure to pass the MTB has resulted in a tax hike on manufacturers of $748 million and in economic losses of $1.857 billion over three years. Any action to reduce barriers to domestic production and increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies must include the re-authorization of MTB.
The U.S. chemical industry is poised for continued growth due to the new economics of shale gas. But in order to make this potential growth a reality, we need a comprehensive, sensible, and bipartisan trade agenda going forward. Furthering this international trade agenda will help unleash the massive growth potential for U.S. chemical exports, enable chemical manufacturers to drive extraordinary job growth in the broader manufacturing sector, eliminate costly barriers to chemicals trade, and resolve 21st-century trade issues limiting manufacturing growth in the U.S. and around the world.