RENTON, Wash. -- Secretary of State John Kerry rallied support for a controversial trade partnership on Tuesday at Boeing's 737 plant in Renton.
Boeing is already one of the top exporters in the state, building a new 737 jet every 12 hours.
Kerry told the crowd that the trade agreement will help all Washington companies export more goods.
“Washington state is a trade leader because you discovered a long time ago that it`s in your best interest to do business with the world,” said Kerry.
Kerry believes the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between 12 countries, will help Washington state's exporters and lower steep tariffs on goods, such as apples.
“Even now, Washington apples are losing out to Chinese apples in Malaysia, because Beijing has a preferential trade agreement with that country and we don`t,” said Kerry.
A large group of people outside the Boeing facility protesting Kerry’s appearance aren't worried about fruit exports, but about jobs.
“We have no reason in the world to believe that more jobs aren`t going to go with these trade agreements,” said Vandana Whitne, who points to trade agreements in the past, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Since NAFTA, we`ve seen industry after industry leave the United States,” said Stan Sorscher, another protester. “Four million good-paying jobs disappear.”
Sorscher is an engineer at Boeing, and says the TPP proposal is making a lot of his co-workers nervous about the future.
“Everybody feels at risk under this trade policy, that their job could be moved overseas,” said Sorscher.
Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, who also served as U.S. ambassador to China from 2011-13, was at Boeing to support Kerry. He believes the TPP is a win for business, but also workers.
“Because it really means more jobs for Americans,” said Locke. “It will reduce a lot of the barriers that American products being sold overseas now face.”
The proposal has also been criticized for being negotiated behind closed doors, and fast-tracked by Congress.
Kerry says the final trade agreement will be made public, and posted online for 60 days before the president has a chance to sign it.