This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Workers at Rio Tinto's Kennecott mine and smelter are proud of the economic contributions our operations have made to the Utah economy for more than 100 years. Those contributions are a direct result of our large customer base — in the U.S. and around the world.

As a leading Utah exporter, Rio Tinto Kennecott is a strong supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will open new opportunities for us and other Utah exporters to sell products in TPP countries from Australia to Vietnam. Given the prospect of new markets for Utah's exporters, Congress should move forward to ratify the TPP to lock in the economic benefits of more open markets in the Pacific and trade rules that level the playing field for US exporters.

TPP is the largest regional trade agreement in history. Its centerpiece is the elimination of import taxes on American-made goods that are shipped to the 11 other signatory countries. Collectively, the 12 TPP countries account for almost one-third of global trade and about 40 percent of global gross domestic product.

Utah-based companies would be a major beneficiary of TPP's approval. Last year, these companies exported $3.7 billion worth of goods to TPP countries — more than one-quarter of all the state's exports. And as of 2011, more than 140,000 Utah jobs were supported by trade with TPP countries. With the trade agreement slashing import taxes imposed by TPP countries, both the value of the exports and the number of jobs would be certain to rise following a successful TPP deal.

Consider the potential benefits to just one sector of Utah's economy — health products. These products face a tariff as high as 30 percent in some of the TPP countries. If TPP becomes law, close to $250 million of Utah-produced health products will see that tariff fall to zero.

TPP will also lower tariffs and facilitate market access for a wide range of Rio Tinto's products produced in the United States. Metals like molybdenum, gold and silver are at the heart of Utah's international offering, accounting for 37 percent of Utah's exports in 2014. Moreover, the TPP opens markets for U.S. manufacturers who buy the refined copper made at Kennecott and manufacture products like wind turbines, cars and airplanes that they want to sell in TPP countries.

TPP will also open markets for agricultural and tech exports. That translates to greater global demand for locally-made products. While trade and commerce are part of Utah's history, they are vital to the state's future growth and prosperity.

TPP will be of special benefit to small or medium-sized businesses, as they account for 85 percent of Utah companies engaged in exports. And TPP's enactment will mean closer economic ties between the signatory countries, which could help spur investment in Utah. With companies based in just two TPP countries — Canada and Japan — employing 4,200 people in Utah in 2010, there is a strong foundation from which to grow.

Enacting TPP will also ensure that U.S. trade rules and principles are the basis for our trading relationships in the Pacific region. The rules spelled out in TPP cover a wide range of issues, including transparency, government procurement and intellectual property. The agreement also contains the strongest labor and environment standards of any trade agreement in history.

Throughout history, trade has helped unleash opportunity and prosperity. It also deepens ties throughout the world — creating opportunities for cooperation on a range of issues.

The Utah economy, powered by a competitive business environment and globally-minded workforce, has seen strong job growth from exports.

With TPP, members of Congress have an opportunity to support a measure that spurs even greater growth — bringing stable, high-wage jobs to Utah. It's an opportunity that should not be missed.

Nigel Steward is managing director of Rio Tinto Copper and Diamonds, South Jordan.