The Trans-Pacific Partnership would improve workers’ lives, protect our oceans, wildlife, forests and even the air we breathe.

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WITH early April labor statistics showing 61 consecutive months of job growth under President Obama and unemployment holding steady at a six-year low, the U.S. economy is the strongest it’s been in years.

Our next steps as a nation will determine whether we continue to expand opportunity here at home and abroad. That’s why it’s important that we give President Obama trade-promotion authority so he can move forward with modern trade agreements around the globe that are free and fair.

The economic case for trade-promotion authority is clear. As governors, we’ve seen firsthand the positive impact of trade on jobs, small businesses and local economies. Ninety-five percent of the world’s markets are beyond our borders, and every $1 billion the United States exports supports between 5,200 and 7,000 jobs here at home. In both Massachusetts and Washington state, that means helping businesses large and small — from major consumer services to manufacturers of bicycle parts or specialty equipment — connect their made-in-America products to new customers overseas. And as they grow their companies, they can secure existing jobs and create new ones as well.

Meanwhile, the longer we wait to allow the president to move ahead with key agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the greater the risk that other countries will set the rules without American input. Trade-promotion authority along with TPP would reinforce the 11.7 million American jobs that are already supported by the export of U.S. goods and services. It would also support hundreds of thousands of high-quality, well-paying jobs right here in America. And according to the Peterson Institute, TPP is estimated to increase U.S. exports by $123.5 billion by 2025.

The longer we wait to allow the president to move ahead with key agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the greater the risk that other countries will set the rules without American input.”

While the economics are critically important, so is the broader positive impact a modern agreement can have on the lives of the working men and women who power our nation’s trade with others. Trade-promotion authority would clear the way for trade deals that help keep America competitive in the global marketplace and set better rules that protect working people and the environment. In fact, the TPP is expected to include strong requirements around wages, the environment and workplace safety — directly addressing the concerns raised about previous trade agreements.

A number of our fellow progressives have raised such concerns, about the TPP in particular. These are the right questions to raise. But we have a president who has demonstrated time and again his commitment to workers, the environment and progressive values. And through five years of negotiations with 12 countries who share our view of the immense opportunity to boost economic growth, many of these concerns have been addressed. And this president and his team have demonstrated their determination to work through any outstanding issues.

Taken together, trade-promotion authority and the deals that follow will do more to advance progressive ideals than any other trade agreements in history. TPP, for example, will require partner countries to follow fair labor practices — including supporting rules around the freedom to form a union and prohibiting the inhumane practices of child and forced labor. It will provide new opportunities for small businesses to grow through improved trade and transparency regulations. All and all, these tougher regulations have the potential to improve the lives of nearly 650 million workers globally. At the same time, TPP takes significant steps to protect our oceans, wildlife, forests and the air that we breathe.

As progressives, we believe the best thing we can do to expand opportunity in America is to grow the economy. Supporting free and fair trade is a means to that end. That means giving President Obama trade-promotion authority that allows the United States to take the lead and set strong rules to protect workers, support jobs, and safeguard the environment. Let’s set the tone for the 21st century global economy, instead of letting other nations do it for us.