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Another Voice: Trade legislation will support millions of U.S. jobs

By Dave Crompton

Many people are not aware that Congress is considering acting on a piece of legislation that will create new opportunities for New York farmers and job creators. While you most often hear about partisan fighting in Washington, this specific legislation is supported by both Republicans and Democrats. The legislation is Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and, if passed, it opens the door to new trade agreements enabling U.S. businesses to sell their goods and services to more customers around the globe.

This is important to all of us. Nearly 40 million U.S. jobs are supported by international trade, including jobs right here in New York.

The Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant (JEP) is just one example. Our plant has been in the area for more than four decades. In that time, JEP has produced more than 1.5 million heavy-duty engines and manufactures approximately 450 engines per day that power line-haul trucks, fire trucks, RVs and other applications that many of us rely on every day.

While many of JEP’s products serve customers here in America, a great deal of our success relies on our ability to reach foreign markets. In 2014 alone, our plant exported $500 million in goods to countries abroad, and these revenues allow us to reinvest in our company, our workforce and our community. JEP now employees 1,500 workers in our plant, making us the largest employer in Chautauqua County.

I shared this story with Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, who recently toured our plant and visited with our employees. Reed’s leadership on trade is critical, because our trade story isn’t unique to our factory or Chautauqua County, but rather it can be found throughout the state of New York. In 2013, New York exported more than $146 billion in goods and services, and international trade supported 2.6 million New York jobs.

The United States has the opportunity to build on these achievements and allow JEP and other U.S. businesses to export to new and growing markets. The government is currently negotiating two major trade deals that have the potential to unleash new benefits for U.S. businesses, farmers and workers. However, we cannot finalize either agreement without TPA. TPA allows Congress to establish robust objectives for U.S. trade negotiations to ensure that the United States can secure the best possible trade deal for America.

The Senate has already acted and the House of Representatives should act now and pass TPA.

This is a major piece of legislation that can help U.S. economic growth and support jobs for American workers and farmers, like the 1,500 Cummins employees at JEP and the 2.6 million New Yorkers across this state. 

Dave Crompton is president of Cummins Engine Business Unit of Cummins Inc.