Complete Pending Agreements
Free Trade Agreements are one of the best routes to accomplishing our goals. The United States currently has FTAs with seventeen countries and (excluding our crude oil imports) we maintain a trade surplus with those economies. Building on this trading system is essential. President Obama's delay in submitting the Colombia, Panama, and South Korea agreements to Congress for implementation has already inflicted injury on our GDP and our job market.
Mitt Romney will press for their immediate ratification and ensure that Congress has the opportunity to vote on them unencumbered by other issues, such as TAA, that require independent consideration.
Pursue New Agreements with Trade Promotion Authority
American presidents should be invested with Trade Promotion Authority that gives them the power to conclude trade agreements and submit them for up-or-down votes in Congress. Otherwise, even the most carefully negotiated trade agreement can become laden with so much congressional meddling on behalf of
special interests that the other parties to the agreement refuse to sign on. Trade Promotion Authority lapsed toward the end of President Bush's second term. Tellingly, with trade a low priority for him, President Obama has not sought its renewal. As president, Mitt Romney will ask Congress to restore that authority.
A president invested with Trade Promotion Authority could explore the possibility of agreements with dynamic emerging economies such as Brazil and India. Though such agreements would be a significant challenge to negotiate and conclude, the economic benefits would be substantial. Similarly, an agreement
with the European Union would be an enormously complex challenge, but a united Europe is a natural partner for such a venture, and the benefits would be large: perhaps approaching $200 billion in GDP growth for the United States and Europe combined. Even incremental expansion of the European-American trading relationship would yield tremendous economic dividends.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership also remains critically important. Such an agreement would open U.S. access to the rapidly expanding Malaysian and Vietnamese markets, provide a dramatic geopolitical and economic bulwark against China, and serve as both a foundation from which to promote the opening of markets throughout Asia and a template for future multilateral agreements.
If the Obama administration stalls the TPP in the run-up to the 2012 election, a Romney administration will move to complete negotiations at the earliest possible date.
Create Reagan Economic Zone
But we can hardly rest there, for there is an opportunity to pursue a game-changing multilateral agreement among like-minded nations genuinely committed to the principles of open markets. As president, Mitt Romney will pursue the formation of a "Reagan Economic Zone." This zone would codify the principles
of free trade at the international level and place the issues now hindering trade in services and intellectual property, crucial to American prosperity and that of other developed nations, at the center of the discussion.
Such a partnership would be extraordinarily attractive to most developed nations, and to those developing nations that have embraced free enterprise and open markets. With membership open to any nation willing to abide by the rules, two primary U.S. objectives would be fulfilled. First, as the most open and innovative
economies came together, the dynamism of the resulting economic zone would serve as a powerful magnet, drawing in an expanding circle of countries willing to abide by the rules in exchange for greater access to one another's markets. At the same time, it would also serve as a mechanism for confronting nations that violated trade rules while free-riding on the international system. Creating a large open market, and excluding countries that failed to respect the rule of law, would prevent cheaters from prospering and provide a major incentive for them to reform.