John Cook in El Paso Times: Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Benefit Region

In case you missed it — yesterday El Paso Times published an op-ed from Executive Director of the U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association and former El Paso Mayor John Cook on the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for the U.S.-Mexico Border region. Mayor Cook is a member of the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs. Key excerpt:

Under the status quo, American workers are regularly undercut by unfair competition and Mexican workers suffer from poor working conditions without substantive labor rights. This race to the bottom must end — and the TPP is a big step in the right direction.

We face uncommon challenges along the border — but we also have the unique opportunity to transform the quality of life of 15 million residents through the type of sustainable growth that the TPP was designed to foster.

Read the full opinion piece below: 

Cook: Trans-Pacific Partnership will benefit region

As former mayor of El Paso, I’ve seen how trade with our neighbor to the south can strengthen our communities, support good-paying jobs, and improve our security here at home.

And while issues like migration and national security often drive the conversation in Washington, the mayors of the U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association are most focused on creating jobs and supporting safe and thriving communities. That’s why so many of us support the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In El Paso alone, this groundbreaking new trade deal will support the 1,863 local businesses that export goods such as transportation equipment, computers, and electronics products to Mexico and other TPP countries.

The TPP will provide these businesses — 88 percent of which are small- or medium-sized companies — with access to new markets where they can sell more goods.

And because export-related jobs pay an average of 18 percent more, the residents of El Paso and other border communities will benefit from better-paying jobs to support their families.

Mexico is already America’s second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner overall. Economic integration along the U.S.-Mexico border sustains 6 million jobs nationwide, and last year, Mexico and the United States traded $400 billion in goods and services.

Under the TPP, this two-way trade relationship has real potential to grow even further.

From 2013 to 2014, the United States grew its exports to Mexico by 6.3 percent, sending more than $240 billion in goods south of the border.

But across Texas, labor-intensive industries such as poultry and beef currently face export tariffs as high as 50 percent. The TPP will reduce these tariffs to alleviate the burdens on these businesses and continue to shrink the U.S-Mexico trade deficit.

At the same time, the TPP will expand the integrated U.S-Mexico supply chain. With 64 percent of Mexican goods sold in America made from U.S inputs, this expansion will strengthen our economic productivity and support jobs in our own communities.

Perhaps most important, the TPP will use trade sanctions to bring nations representing nearly half the world’s markets in line with International Labor Organization standards and hold member nations accountable to fair rules on labor and the environment.

These measures require TPP countries to adopt laws protecting workers rights — including freedom of association, a minimum wage, and set hours of work. And TPP partners must prevent domestic companies from allowing child labor, forced labor, or employment discrimination.

For border mayors and our communities, these new labor standards are a potential game-changer.

Under the status quo, American workers are regularly undercut by unfair competition and Mexican workers suffer from poor working conditions without substantive labor rights. This race to the bottom must end — and the TPP is a big step in the right direction.

We face uncommon challenges along the border — but we also have the unique opportunity to transform the quality of life of 15 million residents through the type of sustainable growth that the TPP was designed to foster.

The Obama Administration has done its part and delivered a tough and forward-looking new trade deal. Now, for all our sakes, it’s time for Congress to pass the TPP.

Read the full op-ed online.

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The Progressive Coalition for American Jobs brings together progressives and Democrats committed to leveling the playing field for American workers and building a stronger economy for all of us. 

For more information, visit PCAJ.org