U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said the country will “be left out in the cold” if Congress does not approve the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership after the Nov. 8 general election.
Pritzker, of Chicago, told Worldview she remains optimistic the House and Senate will approve the trade deal during the lame-duck session. She added that rejecting the agreement will “not be good for U.S. leadership.”
“A lot of these countries and their leaders have made sacrifices to reach this agreement, and if we walk from it, they’re going to be forced to rethink U.S. leadership,” Pritzker said. “In fact, a couple of ambassadors from the TPP countries came back and said, look, if the U.S. does not pass this, we have to make alternative plans, and those alternative plans — which they call Plan B — do not include the United States. So that will leave us at the U.S. in a very difficult position where China will have free-trade agreements throughout the region, which they already do.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade agreement forged with 11 Pacific Rim countries and backed by President Barack Obama.
Trade policy has taken center stage during the presidential election. Donald Trump has called the Trans-Pacific Partnership a “terrible deal” that will result in a loss of American jobs. Hillary Clinton once called the pact the “gold standard” for trade deals during her time as secretary of state, but she has since changed her position and said the agreement does not meet her “high bar.”
Pritzker, whose husband is the vice chair of Chicago Public Media’s board of directors, said there is “a lot of misunderstanding about trade and what trade deals do.”
“Trade deals are an opportunity for the United States to lead and shape how we engage with other countries,” she told Worldview host Jerome McDonnell. “Remember, 95 percent of consumers are outside the United States. Eighty percent of the world’s buying power is outside the United States. American companies — large and small — sell their goods around the world, and what we’re trying to do with the Trans-Pacific Partnership is give those companies market access.”
For Illinois, the Trans-Pacific Partnership could be a boon for companies and workers, Pritzker said, adding that 54 percent of goods exported from Illinois went to countries included in the trade agreement.
Pritzker was joined by Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown. You can hear more from their interview by clicking the ‘Play’ button above.