Former National Security Advisors Urge Congress to Ratify TPP

A nation ignores the lessons of history at its own peril, and among the most well established is that a nation’s prosperity and its security are interdependent. Without a strong economy America will not have the resources to protect itself or advance its interests; and without security this nation cannot succeed.

In the last century it was America’s mutually reinforcing economic and military might, catalyzed by its values and alliances, that defeated evil in two world wars and prevailed in a long Cold War against tyranny. In the globalized world of the 21st Century these timeless assets remain the engine of America’s national success and center pole of global stability. That is precisely why it is imperative for Congress to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact now. 

Approval of this agreement would send a clear signal to America’s Asia-Pacific partners, but also to those around the world, that the United States will continue to be a leader – working with other states – in setting the global rules. Today, at a time of great geopolitical uncertainty, America must show a commitment to the eleven TPP nations and to the many others who are anxiously watching whether the United States intends to continue to play this leadership role.

The agreement is an economic win as well. Despite the contrarian rhetoric of late, the facts clearly show that international trade benefits America’s economy. It creates more and better-paying U.S. jobs and generates the wherewithal and relationships necessary to protect the nation and secure its place in the world. Today, more than 41 million jobs in the United States depend on trade. Trade has added roughly $13,000, on average, to each American family’s income. Each billion dollars of exports supports more than 5,000 jobs on average. 

Much of the global economic growth over the next decade is projected to occur in the Asia-Pacific. By 2030, there are expected to be 3.2 billion middle class consumers in Asia alone, eager for America’s innovative products and services. Yet Asia is increasingly knitting itself together in a network of free trade agreements that generally exclude the United States.  Without TPP, the United States risks being left behind and losing out on the principal engine of future global economic growth. Neither the U.S. economy nor its national security can afford such an outcome.

During the last five years, U.S. exports have hit record highs, reaching $2.2 trillion in 2015, up roughly 40 percent since 2009. Over 300,000 American companies, 98 percent of which are small and medium-sized businesses, export goods. These companies are the backbone of the U.S. economy. They will reap the benefits of the level playing field that TPP will help create.

Moreover, America is a Pacific power and has been for over a century. At a time when China’s growth has slowed and its neighbors wish stronger relations with the United States, it is all the more important that America seize the opportunity to show leadership in the region.

Congress should ratify the agreement swiftly to make sure that America does not fall behind. According to the nonpartisan, independent Peterson Institute, delaying implementation of the agreement for even a single year would mean the permanent loss of $94 billion to the U.S. economy. That’s a loss of over $700 on average for every U.S. household.  That’s lost opportunities for American famers, manufacturers, and businesses to export, grow, and support higher paying jobs. 

But the true costs of delay are much higher considering the strategic stakes. All of the strategic benefits of passing TPP – helping to set rules of the road consistent with American interests and American values, strengthening U.S. partners and allies, and boosting sustainable growth – are at risk the longer we wait.

Essential truths are inalienable and timeless. That’s why General Eisenhower’s caution still rings true: “If we fail in our trade policy, we may fail in all. Our domestic employment, our standard of living, our security, and the solidarity of the free world—all are involved.”

For America failure is not an option. For the sake of our economy, our security, the quality of the world we leave our children, and the prospects of our values in a world that still needs our leadership, Congress should approve TPP without delay.

Steve Hadley
Stephen J. Hadley
Former National Security Advisor

Jim Jones
Gen. James L. Jones, USMC (Ret.)
Former National Security Advisor


Lt.Gen. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret.)
Former National Security Advisor

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