U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Wednesday that the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership would cut 18,000 taxes imposed by other nations on U.S.-made exports.
Such tariffs raise the cost of American products on international markets, putting them at a disadvantage. The TPP deal signed Monday would reduce or remove many tariffs.
Froman told journalists in a phone conference that boosting exports boosts jobs and wages in the United States. He said exports are crucial to the U.S. economy because 95 percent of global customers are outside the United States, and the Asia-Pacific region has many fast-growing economies that are good markets for U.S. wine, software and many other products.
Last year, U.S. manufacturers sold $639 billion worth of products to TPP nations, and supporters say that will rise as the tariffs are eliminated. Froman said that without the TPP, U.S. aircraft parts and orange juice face a 30 percent tariff, while exports as diverse as steel and headphones are hit with taxes of about 24 percent in some cases.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed by the United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations. Before the deal can go into effect, it must be ratified by the participating governments, which in the United States is a job for Congress.
The TPP is controversial in the United States and some other nations. For example, leaders of the Teamsters, a large U.S. labor union, say trade deals have been a bad deal for American companies and workers. The union and other critics have said the TPP does too little to protect workers' rights, food safety and U.S. jobs.