The Journal Gazette
 
 
Monday, January 23, 2017 10:02 pm

Area legislators hope for improved trade

Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette

Two federal lawmakers representing northeast Indiana said Monday they support international trade, yet they expressed no objections to President Donald Trump’s executive order to end White House participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Freshman Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, "strongly supports free trade. Trade means more jobs and economic opportunity for Hoosier businesses, farmers and workers," Banks’ communications director, Anna Swick, said in an email.

Swick said Banks "hopes to work with the new administration on ways to expand trade and grow our economy."

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said in a statement that trade "is critical to Indiana’s workers and farmers, and to our country’s ability to compete in today’s global marketplace, but we have to ensure everyone plays by the same rules. I am hopeful that President Trump will now work with Congress to develop better trade policies that benefit workers, create jobs, and expand export opportunities for small businesses, our manufacturers, and agriculture community."

Donnelly voted in 2015 against giving then-President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the 12-nation TPP and other trade deals. The legislation was approved by both the Republican-controlled Senate and the GOP-run House.

Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, whose district includes parts of Kosciusko County, applauded Trump’s executive order, saying the TPP "had significant flaws."

"This is an opportunity to reach better deals that are good for Hoosier workers and our local manufacturing and agriculture industries," Walorski said in a statement. "I am confident the Trump administration will succeed in negotiating strong, enforceable trade agreements that strengthen our national security and benefit American workers and businesses."

The Journal Gazette sought comment on Trump’s executive order from freshman Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., but had not heard back from him Monday evening. He and Walorski supported fast-track authority for TPP in 2015, when Young was a member of the House.

Foes of the trade deal have included labor, environmental and consumer groups, among them the AFL-CIO, Sierra Club and Public Citizen. Among other things, they contend the agreement would send American jobs to low-wage nations and depress domestic wages.

Organizations supporting TPP have included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Farm Bureau Federation. They say the agreement would open Pacific Rim markets to U.S. exports.

Kevin Brinegar, president and chief executive officer of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, said Monday in an email, "We have supported the TPP since it was first negotiated and are very disappointed with the President’s decision to withdraw U.S. support for the agreement."

According to the U.S. Coalition for TPP, Indiana exported $21 billion worth of good and services to TPP nations in 2013, or 48 percent of the state’s total exports. The Business Roundtable said 55 percent of Indiana exports went to TPP countries in 2014, and the International Trade Administration said 56 percent did in 2015. 

Then-Gov. Mike Pence sent a letter in 2015 to Indiana’s congressional delegation urging its members to support TPP. But after Pence became Trump’s running mate last summer, he told a radio show host he instead favors free trade deals "on a country-by-country basis." 

bfrancisco@jg.net


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