Just in 2013, 11 million jobs were supported by trade in the United States. In Texas, a total of 40,737 companies were dependent on exports — 93 percent of which were small businesses, with 500 or fewer employees. With May being World Trade Month, I would like to emphasize the role that international trade has on our economy.
We have an opportunity to expand upon that economic productivity with the development of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. This trade agreement involves a number of countries, including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and with this partnership in place, Texas will stand to benefit greatly as trade will flourish.
I have been a strong supporter of this partnership and I hope to see an agreement met upon between the leaders of these countries. I have been very pleased to see the progress that has been made towards completing this agreement during the recent high-level meeting between the United States and Japan.
My hometown of Laredo is the largest inland port in the country, accounting for 45 percent of all trade between the United States and Mexico. That means for every $1 of trade between the U.S. and Mexico, $0.45 go through Laredo. That money leads to more jobs for Laredo and more jobs for the 28th District.
Furthermore, the goods shipped through the Laredo Customs district travel to more than 60 countries, bringing in more than $239 billion in trade with the world. It’s clear that trade is a major catalyst for the economic growth of our country as well as our District.
That is why I spend a large portion of my time in Washington working on legislation that promotes and facilitates trade. While working on the FY 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations I fought for the inclusion of funding for an additional 2,000 new Customs and Border Protection officers at border ports, 450 of which will be located in Texas.
These additional officers manning the borders should further expedite the process of transporting goods through the border efficiently. In 2008, it was estimated that around $6 billion in output and 26,000 jobs were lost as a result of delays at the border in the five busiest southern border ports-of-entry. Additionally, the influx of new jobs with help stimulate the economy.
Along with my Texas colleagues in Congress, I was also able to include a new public-private partnership along the border in the 2014 Appropriations Bill. This initiative allows companies in the private sector the opportunity to invest in improvements at the ports of entry.
The passage of this initiative will allow the private sector to invest in infrastructure improvements at our ports of entry and is a win for border communities and the entire state of Texas. Public private partnerships address the challenge of growing trade while maintaining security at the border. These partnerships will streamline the security processes, alleviate costs caused by delays and improve the flow of commerce along the border.
I am a strong supporter of international trade as it brings more investment and innovation into our economy. It is imperative that we remain accessible to international markets so that the economy can prosper and create more jobs. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and increased investment in our ports of entry offer such a possibility.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed first appeared in the Huffington Post.