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US Secretary of Commerce and Senator Tim Kaine Talk Trade in Richmond

Anne Marie Morgan

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined U.S. Senator Tim Kaine in his hometown of Richmond Monday to discuss trade opportunities and obstacles with local business leaders. They especially focused on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, which supporters say would open up improved trade between the 12 nations that are involved in negotiations. 

In a roundtable discussion, business executives said the amount of goods and services that they export internationally has grown, but that some nations have erected substantial hurdles.  Pritzker said the partnership would give American companies fair access to those markets, where they could compete and win.

“But right now, there are markets, particularly in the Asia-Pacific area, where we do not have equal access. There are high tariff barriers, there are non-tariff barriers.”

Kaine said the final agreement must address those challenges.

“You have to make sure that-whether it’s violations of copyright, labor standards, wage standards, worker safety standards, environmental standards-you can’t allow others to sort of, you know, get a competitive edge on our business by hitting lower standards.”

Pritzker said federal trade promotion legislation will come first, with language proposed as early as next week.  She said that would signal to trading partners that the U.S. is serious and bolster its position. 

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