U.S. Trade Representative Talks Maine Exports During Visit to Norridgewock’s New Balance Factory

July 29, 2013

U.S. Trade Representative Talks Maine Exports During Visit to Norridgewock’s New Balance Factory

Norridgewock, ME  – During a visit with workers at the New Balance shoe factory today, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman said that ongoing negotiations toward a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement hold promise for job-supporting Maine exporters and importers, including the maker of Made-in-America athletic footwear.  Ambassador Froman, who toured the New Balance facility along with Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Rep. Mike Michaud (ME-2), committed to stay engaged with New Balance and with the Maine delegation as well as with other stakeholders as TPP talks proceed. 

“Maine has a powerful interest in a deal that expands exports to TPP partners including countries where you already know you can do strong business, like Malaysia and Japan, Maine’s largest export markets after Canada.  Japan’s entry into TPP, in particular, gives New Balance a real opportunity to penetrate an attractive market,” said Ambassador Froman in a meeting with New Balance workers.    “At the same time, we know that changes to footwear tariffs will reduce New Balance’s expenses as well as affect the price of its goods and those of its competitors.  This visit is helpful to understand how these factors impact New Balance’s competitiveness.  We will continue to consult with you and with other Maine companies as we work toward a balanced and ambitious outcome for TPP.”

Ambassador Froman and the members of the Maine congressional delegation also met with New Balance executives at the Norridgewock plant to discuss New Balance’s priorities as the United States negotiates sensitive footwear tariff issues in the TPP.  

Member countries of the TPP are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Malaysia and Japan are already Maine’s second and third largest export markets.  Maine exports are growing twice as fast as the overall Maine economy and more than three times as fast as the U.S. economy as a whole.  Over 30,000 Mainers go to work every day because of exports, including 17 percent of all manufacturing workers in Maine.  85 percent of Maine’s exporters, nearly 1,800 companies, are small and medium-sized enterprises. 

Through the TPP, the United States is seeking to advance a 21st-century trade and investment framework that will boost competitiveness and open up trade and investment with these robust economies in the Asia Pacific, all to support the creation and retention of U.S. jobs while promoting core U.S. principles on labor rights, environmental protection, and transparency.  The 19th round of TPP negotiations will be held August 22-30 in Brunei.