Letters: The U.S. House of Representatives needs to support the Trade Promotion Authority because it helps the nation _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Cranes dot the landscape in September at CF Industries' $2.1 billion expansion at its Donaldsonville area plant. CF industries and Norway's Yara International have abandoned merger talks.

Donaldsonville on the west bank of Ascension Parish is a small town — fewer than 8,000 residents. But local manufacturing packs a big punch, especially when our products can compete on a level playing field outside the United States.

CF Industries’ Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex is no different. It is North America’s largest nitrogen operation and soon to be the world’s largest. Nitrogen fertilizer, an essential plant nutrient, feeds the crops that feed the world. About 1,000 workers operate our facility, and a $2.1 billion capacity expansion project expected to finish next year will create nearly 100 more jobs at the plant and around 700 jobs in related industries.

As CF’s complex grows, we will have new opportunities to export — if we have fair access to markets overseas. That’s why the trade legislation currently being debated in Washington — the so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) — is essential for CF Industries and towns like Donaldsonville to grow and develop. In Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District alone, over 350 manufacturing firms support nearly 40,000 jobs. Many of these, including CF Industries, rely on trade to reach the world’s consumers. The economic benefits for Louisiana are significant — exports sales hit $46 billion in manufactured goods in 2014 — over 70 percent of total goods exported that year.

Trade agreements, particularly free trade agreements (FTAs), have been a key component of this success. The U.S.’s 20 FTA partners purchased 40 percent of Louisiana’s total manufactured goods exported last year, despite representing only 6 percent of the world’s population and about 10 percent of the global economy. That’s the impact FTAs that eliminate barriers to access overseas can have.

Current FTAs in negotiation also have significant promise for Louisiana. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is in negotiation with 11 Pacific Rim nations and aims to increase market access by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers with countries in the region.

An additional $9.12 billion in manufactured goods was exported to European Union countries that year, with which the U.S. is also in FTA talks to create the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

To ensure open markets overseas will continue to benefit Louisiana and communities like Donaldsonville, Congress should pass the TPA legislation. TPA is a critical, pro-manufacturing piece of legislation that will make the products we produce in Donaldsonville more competitive overseas.

The U.S. Senate recently passed the Bipartisan Congressional Trade and Priorities Act that will extend TPA and provide stronger rules on consultations and transparency and improve the ability of U.S. negotiators to bring back the best possible deal for America.

We urge members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support TPA so the United States can again lead on trade and help manufacturers, their employees and local communities.

Lou Frey

vice president and general manager, CF Industries, Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex