Virginia Businesses Speak Out for the Trans-Pacific Partnership
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The 14th Round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations is taking place in Leesburg, Virginia from September 6-15. Five hundred government officials from the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam will meet to discuss how to create a new high standard for trade and investment in the Asia Pacific. Canada and Mexico will join the negotiations in the months ahead.
There’s a lot at stake for small U.S. businesses that currently export or would like to. John Saylor, Chair of the Virginia/DC District Export Council, explains:
Exporting to foreign markets can be complicated and risky. Your average small business does not have the resources to resolve problems that might occur with their product in customs clearance, or adapt to unique labeling requirements for each new market, or intervene in a country’s legal system to prevent their intellectual property from being stolen. Trade agreements, like the TPP, can help create the framework to solve these problems which makes exporting easier for U.S. companies.
Many small business owners located in the shadow of where the negotiations are taking place will be paying close attention. One of them is Lee Oppenheim, President of Precision Auto Care, a small business based in Virginia, who says, “What I like about the TPP agreement is that it covers a large group of countries. It is a force multiplier. A small company like ours that might already be exporting to one country is going to more easily be able to reach the markets of the other eight members. The TPP has the potential to dramatically increase our export opportunities.”
Virginia has emerged as a major exporter. In 2011, exports from the state rose nearly 6% to $18.9 billion, with more than 6,600 Virginia companies--5,500 of whom are small and medium sized (SME) businesses--involved in both imports and exports. These companies employ 300,000, and nearly one-sixth of all manufacturing jobs in Virginia depend on international trade. Service exports from Virginia are sharply on the rise. From 2001-2009, they increased 7.4% compared to 1.4% growth in exports of manufactured goods. The rise of high-tech service industries in Northern Virginia is fueling the export boom.
For Virginia exporters, like all U.S. exporters, TPP represents a vital opportunity for continued growth and opportunity.