As an International Paper employee, a company that employs over 650 people at our Georgetown mill, I am thankful for Congressman Tom Rice’s support for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
TPA is an important process that will allow the current administration, as well as future presidents, to craft strong trade agreements that will put the interests of American manufacturing front and center by leveling the playing field and opening new markets for our products. TPA will increase transparency in trade negotiations and will ensure that the United States plays a central role in shaping trade agreements.
Having access to foreign markets is vitally important not only to companies like International Paper, but also to me personally. Our mill exports 60 percent of our production to markets in Asia, Europe and Latin America, making global trade essential to my family, our employees and our community.
Since 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside of the United States, exports continue to be of growing importance for the U.S. forest products industry. Global trade accounts for more than 15 percent of the industry’s annual total sales. In 2014, the industry’s global exports totaled an estimated $32.2 billion, of which $22.3 billion were exports of pulp and paper.
TPA will create new opportunities for businesses – big and small alike – and their employees. The link that International Paper has to global trade is not only important to our employees, but to the 529 small and medium sized companies that our South Carolina-based facilities purchase goods and services from throughout the state.
Rice demonstrated leadership by supporting TPA. In voting for this critical piece of legislation, he voted to stand up for his constituents and those who work in manufacturing.
Thank you, Congressman Rice.
The writer is the mill manager of International Paper in Georgetown.