TPP: Fostering a Level Playing Field for the American Services Sector

March 10, 2016

Stefan Selig is the Under Secretary for the International Trade Administration

This week, I had the opportunity to speak before the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) at their event “What Will TPP Mean for Services Trade?” So I used this opportunity to go even further.

First, I explained what our services exports have meant for the American economy as a whole. The U.S. is currently the leading exporter of services in the world. But more importantly, over the past 20 to 25 years, as the global marketplace for services developed, we have experienced the job and export growth that came with maintaining and deepening that leadership. Between 1999 and 2014, U.S. jobs supported by services exports increased by 36%, and services accounted for 70% of the total increase in jobs supported by exports during this period. Today, more than 4.5 million jobs are supported by services exports, and last year we exported more than $710 billion in services. Overall, our services sector produces surpluses year after year after year.


Selig speaks with WITA about TPP and U.S. service exports.

I also explained what TPP means for American leadership. As I have said over the course of my time as Under Secretary, trade is not a threat to American leadership, it is an expression of it. TPP will allow us to expand our commercial leadership by opening market access for our goods and services in the part of the world where the majority of global middle class will be located within the next 15 years. It will allow us to expand our strategic leadership by advancing rules of global commerce that reflect our core values, embodied in the strongest labor, environmental, and intellectual property protections of any trade agreement in history. And, TPP will allow us to grow our strategic and diplomatic leadership, because it will enable our nation to deepen our relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific, the area that is becoming both the political and economic center of gravity in the world.

Of course, I also answered the topic question of the event. For our services exporters, TPP is nothing short of a generational opportunity. TPP is a generational opportunity compared to earlier agreements, particularly the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Because TPP utilizes a negative list approach, as opposed to GATS with its positive list approach, U.S. services exporters will enjoy a superior breadth of coverage and superior quality of commitments for market access. And TPP contains several advancements relative to GATS and our other free trade agreements, which will better combat “behind-the-border” regulations that impede our services exporters. TPP is also a generational opportunity in that it is the first major trade agreement of the digital economy era. TPP positions our digital services exporters to gain market access in such sectors as network management, internet search, data analytics, and cloud computing among others. And TPP is a generational opportunity for our services exporters to access a $600 billion services market among our partner countries. That market will only grow as nearly half of global economic growth will be in the Asia-Pacific in the next 20 years.

Our services sector has been a backbone of our economy, supporting good-high paying jobs. In order to ensure this will continue, we need to do everything we can to make sure TPP becomes a reality during this administration.  That includes the organization I lead, the International Trade Administration (ITA), which supported the negotiations to close TPP, and which is working with members of Congress to secure its passage.

ITA is committed to creating opportunities for U.S. workers and businesses by promoting international trade and business investment, and by fostering a level playing field for American businesses. With offices in more than 100 U.S. cities and 75 international markets— including 170 Commercial Service officers in all 11 TPP markets—we are available to help U.S. companies succeed in the global marketplace.


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