Our Views: Big new push for commerce

At last, some good news about turning around the world economy and gaining new benefits for Louisiana in particular through an expansion of world trade.

While wrapped in vast amounts of legalese and diplomatic qualifying remarks, the news is that the United States and Japan are nearing a final agreement on the latter joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership on trade. This should result in more and easier commerce across the Pacific.

“Nearly half of all growth outside the U.S. over the next five years is expected to come from Asia, and the choices that nations across the region make now will shape the character of the entire global system for years to come,” wrote Tom Donilon in The Wall Street Journal.

Donilon is national security adviser to President Barack Obama, who has shown in office that he has backed off some of his more protectionist speeches in the 2008 campaign.

That’s good news, as is the president’s embrace of a similar effort to reduce trade barriers in the Atlantic region.

“The U.S. and Europe already account for nearly half of the world’s gross domestic product, and trade and investment already supports more than 13 million U.S. and European jobs,” Donilon noted in the Journal. “With such a massive economic relationship, even small improvements can increase trade by tens of billions of dollars and support hundreds of thousands of additional jobs on both sides of the ocean.”

Louisiana benefits greatly from its position at the mouth of the Mississippi River, and free trade is one area of policy that generally unites Louisiana politicians, even those with other policy differences with Obama.

At the same time, our delegation has to keep an eye on state interests. Beef exports, an issue with Louisiana ranchers, were an issue in the South Korean negotiations. Rice is another Louisiana issue, in which state farmers want to be treated fairly. The Louisiana delegation has been bird-dogging the trade agreements.

That’s appropriate, for local legislators have to pay attention to local concerns. On the big issues of moving forward in trade, we commend Louisiana’s delegation in Congress for working with presidents of both parties on greater commerce around the world.

Louisiana will be a beneficiary.