Sen. Feinstein Doesn’t Understand NET Exports


A CPA member wrote to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to ask her why she voted for Fast Track, or “Trade Promotion Authority” (TPA). 

Sen. Feinstein’s answer reflects the fact that she doesn’t seem to understand that NET exports are desirable.  It’s fine to say that exports have increased, but it’s important to look at the whole picture–if imports have also increased, creating a trade deficit, then we are at an economic disadvantage. 

We hope that if/when the TPP is up for a vote, that Sen. Feinstein will consider net exports.

Below, please find the text of her response:


Dear  XXX:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).  I appreciate the time you took to write, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
First, please know that as a U.S. Senator, I carefully review each free-trade agreement that comes before me to ensure that the best interests of American workers and businesses are served, and that the agreement will not adversely affect the U.S. economy, human rights, labor rights or environmental standards.
As you are aware, I voted in favor of TPA—otherwise known as fast-track authority—because it grants the President the ability to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I believe that increasing free trade with our neighbors in the Pacific Rim is squarely in our economic and national security interests.
The process of considering trade legislation has enabled me to see the extraordinary importance of trade to California’s economy, and I wanted to share some of this information with you.
Today, trade supports more than 4.7 million jobs in California, and nearly 40 million nationwide. More than 75,000 California businesses export goods out of the state, and 95 percent of those are small- or medium-sized, meaning they have fewer than 500 employees. Since 2009, jobs related to merchandise trade have increased by 11 percent in California, and research has shown that firms that export pay their employees 15 percent more than those that do not.
Three of California’s major sectors benefit substantially from trade:

  • The services sector—both high-skilled professional services as well as lower-skilled services such as accommodation, food and administration—have helped lead California’s economic recovery since the 2008 recession. Services exports have been a key contributor to that sector. For instance, in 2013, California exported $114 billion in services, a 58 percent growth over 2006. This has translated to job growth: last year, 66 percent of all new jobs in California were in the services sector. By reducing barriers to services exports, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is expected to boost this critical sector of our growing economy.  
  • In 2014, California exported $174.1 billion in total merchandise goods and over the past 10 years, exports from California to existing free-trade partners grew by 50 percent. If past trade deals are any indication of the future, then our merchandise industry will continue to grow under TPP. Today, California’s exports of computer and electronic products face tariffs as high as 35 percent, while transportation equipment and machinery face tariffs as high as 70 percent, both of which will be reduced under TPP.
  • California agriculture also relies on exports. In 2013, agricultural exports were valued at $21.2 billion, making our agriculture industry the largest by value in the United States. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, under TPP nationwide agriculture exports are expected to increase by 5.4 percent by 2025. As with our merchandise exports, our agriculture products currently face steep tariffs in the Asia-Pacific region. Dairy products face a tariff of up to 35 percent in Japan while walnuts face a 30 percent tariff in Vietnam. With these tariffs reduced or eliminated, the TPP will help California’s farmers, ranchers and producers.

The bottom line is that trade has been critical for California’s economic growth, and it will be vital to sustaining that growth.  
As you know, past trade deals have negatively affected certain areas of our workforce. This is why in addition to supporting TPA, I also strongly support Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). TAA provides workers displaced by trade with job retraining and other assistance. I look forward to TAA becoming law as soon as possible, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to push for funds for the program each year.
Lastly, it is important to note that beyond economic considerations, the proposed TPP is key for our national security and foreign policy objectives. TPP will require our trade partners to raise their standards with respect to human rights and workers’ rights. Further, it will require countries like Vietnam and Malaysia to improve their laws and enforcement against human trafficking and wildlife trafficking, which I believe are absolutely critical.
Additionally, TPP will help the United States re-balance our global priorities to take into account the increasing role of the Asia-Pacific region. Pursuing free and fair trade with our allies in the region is a key part of that re-balance. By creating a free trade zone, we will be ensuring its member countries play by internationally-recognized rules that we will help establish. Rejecting this trade deal would cede influence to countries that do not share our commitment to worker rights, human rights and environmental stewardship.
As the information above demonstrates, trade is economically vital for California and the nation, which is why I will continue to support Trade Promotion Authority.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator


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