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The American economy had a dismal first quarter. Despite initial reports that the economy grew at a 0.2 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department recently found that the economy actually shrank at 0.7 percent.

We now know that a widening trade deficit subtracted 1.9 percentage points from growth, dragging our economy into the negative just when the American people most need economic growth to get back on their feet.

So what would help our economy finally get out of the rut? Increased trade. As the Wall Street Journal reported, April saw a big, positive swing in trade that, if sustained and built upon, could lead to real economic growth:

“In April, nominal imports dropped 3.3% to $230.78 billion while exports increased 1% to $189.91 billion. The improvement, if sustained, could mean that trade may even boost GDP in the second quarter.”

The best way to boost trade in America and export even more American goods to foreign markets is to negotiate trade deals in our best interest. We need trade deals that help American workers, manufacturers, and producers in a globalized economy—deals with priorities set by the people’s representatives in Congress.

In short, we need to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). With TPA, we get more transparency in trade deals, Congress reserves it’s right to accept or reject any deal, and America will set the rules of global commerce.

Increased trade means a stronger economy. A stronger economy means more jobs and higher wages for American workers. With so much on the line and so much economic growth to gain, America needs free trade now more than ever.