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A critical piece of legislation is up for vote in the U.S. House of Representatives that, if passed, can have a significant positive economic impact for Alabama, and more specifically, the Port of Mobile. The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and Alabama State Port Authority are calling on Alabama’s federal House Representatives delegation to vote in support of the Trade Promotion Authority.
TPA is a legislative procedure, written by Congress, through which Congress defines the U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the President of the United States to follow throughout the negotiation process. At the end of the negotiation and consultation process, Congress gives the agreement an up or down vote, without amendment.
Mobile Area Chamber President & CEO Bill Sisson noted that for nearly two decades the Chamber’s grown its International Trade efforts, and pointed to incredible gains Alabama has made in the export market during that time as well.
The Alabama Department of Commerce announced earlier this year that Alabama exports climbed in 2014 to a near-record level, powered by shipments of Alabama-made automobiles to almost 100 countries, as well as rising overseas sales of products such as industrial machines, plastics, and iron and steel. Alabama’s exports totaled $19.52 billion last year, a gain of nearly 1.2 percent from 2013’s figure, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department. Alabama-based companies and manufacturing facilities have made significant long-term gains in exporting. Since 2009, Alabama’s exports have risen 57 percent. Over a 10-year period, foreign shipments have advanced 115 percent, figures show.
“International trade supports more than half-million jobs in Alabama – and our trade-related employment grew 7.2 times faster than total employment over the past decade. That’s proof that our future economy will rise and fall on how well we grow and strengthen our trading partnerships. Trade agreements and trade promotion authority are the conduits for continued economic success,” he added.
Chamber members have been active in contacting federal legislators seeking support for passing the TPA. And this week, the ASPA sent a letter to Rep. Bradley Byrne stating TPA, “creates a process for negotiating trade deals that will allow Alabama agribusinesses and manufacturers to flourish.”
“Passing TPA-2015 would remove costly trade barriers and level the playing field for Alabama’s manufacturers, mining industries and agribusinesses that move their exports through the port. Our exporters already experience competition from overseas producers, who don’t pay costly tariffs,” said Jimmy Lyons, CEO of the ASPA.