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U.S. Trade Representative Brings President Obama’s State of the Union Call for Asia Trade Agreement to the Bronx

President’s chief trade adviser Michael Froman covered how the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s economic and foreign policy  agenda, will deliver over 18,000 tax cuts for American exports and support high-paying jobs in New York

New York, NY – On Friday, January 15th, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the top American trade official and a member of the President’s cabinet, came to the Bronx following President Obama’s final State of the Union address to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a groundbreaking new trade agreement with the Asia-Pacific region that the President said on Tuesday will “open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia.”

Building on the President’s call for approval of the TPP, Ambassador Froman highlighted both how exporting Made-in-America products is currently benefitting the Bronx economy as well as how the TPP, which is one of the Obama Administration’s leading priorities for 2016 and one of the most promising issues for bipartisan cooperation in Congress this year, is aimed at growing those benefits for the Bronx and the greater New York community.

In 2014, New York State exported $88.4 billion of Made-in-America goods to the world, and those exports supported nearly 400,000 good-quality jobs.  And $24.8 billion of those exports, 34 percent of New York’s total, went to TPP countries in the Asia-Pacific. From the metropolitan area of New York alone, over 16,000 companies exported to TPP countries in 2013, including over 15,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

This afternoon, Ambassador Froman was hosted by Pook Diemont & Ohl, Inc. (PDO), a Bronx small business that manufactures and exports acoustic equipment for theaters, concert halls, schools, etc., and employs 24 people. 

PDO exports to five countries that are in the Trans-Pacific Partnership – Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Singapore – and they want to grow their company and help the Bronx economy by exporting more to the Asia-Pacific region, where their products currently face import taxes as high at 15 percent. 

Prior to touring PDO’s manufacturing facility, Ambassador Froman and Irene Byrn Ohl, the co-owner of the business, gave remarks focused on how the TPP will break down numerous barriers that Made-in-America exports face in the Asia-Pacific, as well as how the agreement goes farther than any trade agreement in history when it comes to helping American small businesses support jobs by exporting.

For example, while large companies often have the resources to export into foreign countries despite trade barriers, the 98 percent of U.S. exporters that are small and medium-sized businesses are frequently locked-out of critical markets by tariffs and other measures. But thanks to the over 18,000 tax cuts that the TPP will gain for American-made exports, the tariffs that are imposed on PDO’s products in TPP countries will be brought to 0.     

“PDO is an inspiring American exporting success-story that epitomizes the economic benefits President Obama is working to grow in communities like the Bronx and all over the country through the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “Not only will the TPP help American workers, farmers, and businesses of all sizes by cutting over 18,000 different tax cuts that others countries place on American-made exports in the Asia-Pacific, but the agreement has the first-ever small business chapter in a trade agreement and will mean unprecedented access to these important markets for innovative American small businesses like PDO.”

“Although our Variable Acoustic products are often specified overseas, at bid time local companies jump in with their own lower priced offerings,” said Ted Ohl, Founding Partner of Pook Diemont & Ohl, Inc. “Their products don't match our independent lab testing results, if they are tested at all, nor do they have our track record of durability.  But the price delta, amplified by import tariffs and trade transaction overhead costs, compels the buyer to overrule his consultants and buy the cheaper local product.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership can reduce that price difference and, together with our continuing efforts to lower costs and market the superiority of our product line, close the gap enough to deliver the better New York made product to the partner country client.”

Ambassador Froman also outlined how the TPP will help level the playing field for American workers and businesses by setting high-standard rules across the region, including groundbreaking protections for intellectual property, labor rights, a free and open internet, and many other areas.

Last week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the National Association of Manufacturers each endorsed the TPP, and last year the National Association of Small Businesses endorsed the TPP.

For a White House fact sheet on the TPP please click here.

For a Commerce Department fact sheet on how the TPP will benefit New York State as a whole, please click here.  

For a U.S. Trade Representative profile of iconic New York exports that will benefit from TPP tariff cuts, please click here