The House of Representatives will soon vote on giving the president of the United States Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA is a “legislative procedure, written by Congress, through which Congress defines U.S. negotiating objectives and spells out a detailed oversight and consultation process for during trade negotiations.” Voting to give the president this authority would allow him to “submit trade agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote within a set period of time, without amendment.” (Learn more here.)
Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf recently published an essay in The San Diego Union-Tribune laying out the reasons why this is a good idea—good for U.S. workers, and good for U.S. businesses.
Our biggest advantage is our leadership in globally competitive fields that are already attracting a significant amount of foreign direct investment that creates high-skilled, high-paying jobs in life sciences, shipping, defense technology and wireless communications.
Global markets help to drive San Diego’s economy, and this is the best argument for congressional passage of legislation that would grant Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to the president. TPA strengthens the ability of the United States to negotiate and conclude trade agreements. These agreements are needed to help American businesses and workers sell more products around the world by breaking down barriers to U.S. products, services and investment, and creating enforceable intellectual property protection and transparent rule-making. I am confident that if people across Asia and Europe have fair and open access to all the world produces, they will choose the cutting edge products and services created in San Diego.
But San Diego companies won’t have preferential access to these markets without TPA.
Congressional passage of TPA would authorize the president to negotiate and conclude trade agreements with other countries. These agreements would then be sent to Congress for an up-or-down vote. In other words, once U.S. trade negotiators reach a deal with foreign counterparts, Congress would exercise its constitutional authority to approve treaties but wouldn’t be able to rewrite the trade agreement. This provides crucial assurance to both Americans and our trade partners that a deal is a deal. (Imagine what it’s like to sign a contract after tough and protracted negotiations—sometimes lasting years—if you aren’t sure the other side will live up to its promises.)
Unlocking new markets is important to Qualcomm. Our business by its very nature is without borders, yet it’s the global diffusion of mobile technology and Qualcomm’s contributions in particular that support the jobs we have created in San Diego.
Qualcomm has more than 15,000 employees in San Diego—about half of our global work force. And engineers make up roughly two-thirds of our global work force. A 2013 study co-sponsored by the Economic Development Corp. found that for every job created at Qualcomm, another 2.3 jobs are generated in the San Diego region. But the key to why we are such a global company and why you find our technology licensed around the world—in effect, the export of our intellectual property—is our engineering.
It is the experimentation and invention that takes place here in San Diego that drives Qualcomm’s global contributions to the semiconductor chips and technology found in smartphones and other mobile devices from Beijing to Berlin to Balboa Park.
San Diego’s innovative spirit is infused across the biotech, defense, services, ports and tourism industries. Our city’s passion for solving today’s global problems is what sets San Diego apart and sharpens our competitive edge. According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, the San Diego region is poised to strengthen its economy through increased global activity. It described the San Diego economy as a textbook example for how strong educational institutions and an innovative culture can be leveraged to make a region competitive around the world and be an engine for local job creation.
Breaking new ground with American trade agreements will bolster the rule of law, strengthen intellectual property protection and raise environmental and labor standards, all of which will make selling products around the world fairer for Qualcomm, the biotech industry, defense contractors and the rest of San Diego. It ensures that new inventions, products and services created in San Diego will be able to access global customers, which translates into more economic growth and jobs at home. That is why we hope to see quick and decisive congressional passage of TPA.
We count on our representatives in Washington to understand how much international trade means to businesses and workers in the San Diego region and beyond. We need them to recognize that San Diego companies are ready to compete more fairly around the world, and we want this administration to open new markets for us with Congress’ support.
That can only happen with the immediate passage of Trade Promotion Authority.