Trade Promotion Authority
July 1, 2015
As president of South Carolina’s Colite International, I know the importance of global trade to the success of our business. Like many homegrown companies, today we are an international business that is still owned and operated by the same family dating back to 1947. Colite is a global leader in full-service signage projects. Whether we are furnishing signage for GAP in China, a Holiday Inn in Honduras or completing a Victoria’s Secret in our 70th country, Colite’s commitment is to our customers and their employees around the globe. As we continue to expand our services into Lighting and Energy Solutions, it will become even more important that Colite has improved access to existing and new markets. That’s why I want to thank members of the South Carolina congressional delegation who voted to pass the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), including Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, as well as Congressmen Trey Gowdy, Mark Sanford, Tom Rice and Joe Wilson.
The world is small. At least it is for us. Our signs can be found across the globe in more than 120 countries. We have manufacturing partners in more than 20 countries and installation and service providers in more than 65 countries. Our vision is to be the world’s premier signage provider through innovative designs, sustainable manufacturing, outstanding service and strategic partnerships. Economic isolationism will not create jobs nor grow our economy. In fact, it has resulted in millions of lost jobs in the Unites States over the past few decades.
When you consider that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, the ability for the Executive Branch and Congress to work together on trade deals is essential. Almost 40 million U.S. jobs depend on trade, and one out of every three acres on American farms is planted for exports. And, like Colite, more than 97 percent of companies that export their products are small and medium-sized businesses.
For more than 30 years, Congress has enacted TPA laws to guide both Democratic and Republican Administrations in pursuing trade agreements, eliminating barriers in foreign markets and establishing rules to stop unfair trade practices. Contrary to what those who oppose the Trade Promotion Authority said, TPA does not provide more power to the President. It provides congressional oversight of any trade deal and enables the public to provide input before deals are finalized. Under the TPA, Congress retains the authority to review trade deals and decide whether any proposed agreement will be implemented.
With the Trade Promotion Authority, the United States will be able to pursue 21st century trade agreements that support and create U.S. jobs while helping American manufacturers, service providers, farmers and other small and medium-sized businesses increase U.S. exports and compete in a highly competitive, globalized economy. Our future depends on the United States becoming a leader in breaking down trade and economic barriers for our South Carolina businesses to flourish.
With the majority of Colite’s work now centered internationally, I believe that our future international growth will enable us to be successful for many years to come, protect the 100 jobs we have in South Carolina and create even more jobs in the future to support our efforts in the U.S. and abroad. It is the ability to work across the global marketplace from home that makes our country so successful. Passage of the Trade Promotion Authority will only enhance that.