A Message from the President of Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Tod Maisch.

Todd Maisch President & CEO Illinois Chamber of Commerce

Todd Maisch
President & CEO
Illinois Chamber of Commerce

While the two major party candidates for President disagree on plenty of issues, they are like-minded on the question of free trade. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose it.

They do so to the detriment of American families, farmers and businesses.

Free trade means greater choices and lower prices for American families. If you bought a television in 2012, you paid 86 percent less for it than you would have paid in 2002. During the same time period, the price for a personal computer fell 75 percent. The savings are thanks to our ability to import goods from other countries. Policies that increase trade and foreign investment in the U.S. save the average American family more than $10,000 per year.


The U.S. can further strengthen its trade and investment relationships with eleven countries in the Asia-Pacific region through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.


Do you know someone who works for John Deere, Caterpillar, Pilkington North America, or Archer Daniels Midland? All of those Illinois companies – and more – create well-paying jobs by exporting their products. In 2014, trade with countries in the Asia-Pacific region supported nearly 650,000 Illinois jobs.  


Trade with other countries helps small businesses in big ways. In 2014, more than 11,000 Illinois-based companies exported goods to TPP countries. About 90 percent were small- and medium-sized companies. The benefits aren’t limited to companies that make products. The service sector would also benefit under TPP, including people who work in information and communication technologies, finance, insurance, marketing, architecture and engineering.


Too many people buy into the myth that trade costs American jobs. In reality, 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside of the U.S. Seventy percent of the world’s purchasing power lies beyond our borders. When other countries lower tariffs on U.S. goods, our exports are more competitive. We benefit by access to new markets, demand for our products, American jobs and economic growth.


TPP benefits would extend to rural Illinois. Illinois farmers can attribute 33 percent of their income to the commodities they export. Farmers in the state have found markets in Japan and Europe, for example, where their crops are used in everything from baby food to beer. TPP would give U.S. agriculture greater access to some of the fastest growing markets in the world at a time when market expansion is badly needed. 


The majority of Americans surveyed in a recent Gallup poll view foreign trade as an opportunity for economic growth through increased U.S. exports. Nearly half of Americans surveyed by Pew Research Center in 2015 say free trade agreements have helped their family’s finances.


The American public supports trade. Farmers and small businesses support it. Our next president also needs to get on board.