Trade policy is typically viewed just through an economic lens.
But guess what? Trade policy is also at the core of our strategy to keep America and our allies safe.
“Trade,” wrote former National Security Advisor General James Jones last month, “runs right to the heart of international security in the 21st century. By leading on trade, the United States tightens our bonds with allies around the globe, strengthens our influence in would-be hotspots, and fosters greater global stability through expanding economic cooperation.”
In fact, a growing number of our nation’s top diplomats, senior officials past and present, and respected foreign policy and public policy thinkers are now drawing attention to the important linkage between America’s economic and strategic interests.
At the heart of the President’s call for Congress to move forward on trade is the conviction that these trade agreements will bring tangible benefits to American workers and business. Export-driven business resulted in more than 11 million American jobs in 2014, and we know that export-related jobs pay up to 18 percent more than non-export jobs.
In the past weeks and months, we have increasingly heard the national security case of trade starting with the President’s national security team, including Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and the nation’s top diplomat, Secretary of State John Kerry.
"If we retreat on trade, our influence on the global economy will diminish. And if our economic stature is in doubt, our ability to deliver on defense and political challenges will be increasingly questioned. In our era, the economic and security realms are absolutely integrated; we simply can’t pull back from one without diminishing our role on the other."
-- Secretary of State John Kerry at the Atlantic Council
Prominent writers on strategic issues such as author and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, heads of major think tanks including Michele Flournoy of the Center for a New American Security, and groups of former and current U.S. Ambassadors, including all 11 of our Ambassadors to TPP party countries, have underscored the national security case for the President’s trade agenda.
“These deals are not just about who sets the rules. They’re about whether we’ll have a rule-based world at all. We’re at a very plastic moment in global affairs -- much like after World War II. China is trying to unilaterally rewrite the rules. Russia is trying to unilaterally break the rules and parts of both the Arab world and Africa have lost all their rules and are disintegrating into states of nature.”
-- Tom Friedman, The New York Times
Our nation’s strength is in no small part derived from our commitment to norms and standards at home and overseas, including high standards for international commerce. The President’s trade agenda represents our vision for the 21st century global economy -- one where all countries benefit from clear rules of the road that apply equally and fairly to all members of that order, and that reject the idea that the economy of the future will be one of growing decentralization and regionalism.
Our choice is between seizing the opportunity to impact the course of the global order or letting others write the rules of the 21st century.