Trade Promotion Authority Quietly Renewed

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation passed Congress on July 1 for another three years, until 2021, as neither the House nor the Senate passed a resolution of disapproval in the previous three months.

On Tuesday, March 21, 2018 President Trump had formally requested a three-year extension of trade promotion authority to negotiate free trade agreements that he can submit to Congress under fast track approval procedures. Congress last passed trade promotion authority in 2015 in one of the hardest-fought congressional trade battles in years.

The TPA allows the White House to submit trade deals to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote without any amendments.  The TPA legislation establishes strong rules for trade negotiations and congressional approval of trade pacts, and delivers trade agreements that boost U.S. exports and create American jobs.

“Extension of TPA is critical to negotiating accountable, enforceable and reciprocal trade deals that will benefit American workers, farmers and ranchers,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement welcoming the renewal. “The Trump administration is pursuing a number of potential bilateral free trade agreements, and TPA extension means we may continue to aggressively pursue these opportunities.”

Background

Trade is an important engine for U.S. economic growth and jobs. With more than 30% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) tied to international trade and investment, 95% of the world’s population abroad, and more than one in five U.S. jobs supported by trade, U.S. engagement in the international marketplace is more important to the nation’s economy than ever. Passage of Trade Promotion Authority can help Congress and the President work together to forge new and beneficial trade agreements for the United States.

Trade promotion authority (formerly called fast track trade negotiating authority) is the process by which Congress gives authority to the President and/or U.S. Trade Representative to enter into trade negotiations in order to lower U.S. export barriers. Traditionally, following the conclusion of negotiations for a trade agreement, enabling legislation is submitted to Congress for approval. Once legislation is submitted, under trade promotion authority, both houses of Congress will vote “yes” or “no” on the agreement with no amendments, and do so within 90 session days (not to be confused with a treaty, which is “ratified” by the U.S. Senate). During negotiations, however, there is a process for sufficient consultation with Congress.

CalChamber Position

The California Chamber of Commerce, in keeping with long standing policy, enthusiastically supports free trade worldwide, expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business.

The CalChamber therefore supports the extension of trade promotion authority so that the President of the United States may negotiate new multilateral, sectoral and regional trade agreements ensuring that the United States may continue to gain access to world markets, resulting in an improved economy and additional employment of Americans. Such authority involves trade-related issues only and encourages industry consultation during future trade negotiations.

Reasons for Position

U.S. trading partners in Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia are actively negotiating with other countries to achieve preferential market access.

America’s standing as a world leader depends directly upon its competitive success in the global economy. Increased market access achieved through trade agreements has historically played a major role in our nation’s success as the world’s leading exporter.

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

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