(June 3, 2015) The U.S. House of Representatives will consider federal legislation to renew the authority for the President and/or U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate trade agreements in the next few weeks. The California Chamber of Commerce is urging the California congressional delegation to quickly pass the bill because it will help boost U.S. exports and create American jobs.
The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015) was introduced in April by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).
On May 22, the U.S. Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority bill, 62-37, with the support of 14 Democrats and most Republicans. California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein voted in support of the legislation, while Senator Barbara Boxer voted against the measure.
In late April, House and Senate committees agreed to give the President fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements, but added a series of amendments to the package of bills. The amendments include limits on currency manipulation, limits on agreements with any country considered a violator of human-trafficking rules, and restrictions on the import of products made with child labor.
Trade is an important engine for U.S. economic growth and jobs. With 11.7 million U.S. jobs tied to exports and 95% of the world’s population abroad, U.S. engagement in the international marketplace is more important than ever.
“California is a top exporting state with one of the 10 largest economies in the world and a gross state product exceeding $2 trillion,” said CalChamber Vice President of International Affairs Susanne T. Stirling.
“It is important for congressional leaders of both parties to know this legislation is critical to companies, workers, farmers, and ranchers in our state, and that the California congressional delegation supports this job-creating renewal of trade promotion authority for the President and/or U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate trade agreements,” she said.
Trade Promotion Authority
Every president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been granted the authority to negotiate market-opening trade agreements in consultation with Congress. The landmark Trade Act, H.R. 3009 of August 6, 2002, helped put U.S. businesses, workers and consumers back in the game of international trade by granting the president trade promotion authority (TPA).
Since 2002, the United States has completed free trade agreements (FTA) with Australia, Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic/Central America, Morocco, Oman, Panama, Peru, Singapore and South Korea. Financially, this translates into the removal of billions of dollars in tariffs for U.S. exports.
Several hundred FTAs are in force worldwide, with the United States party to just a handful. For example, both Canada and Mexico have FTAs with Chile. Mexico has more than 45 FTAs with countries and blocs, including Japan, Israel and the European Union. Chile has more than 50 FTAs with countries worldwide.
Now, without trade promotion authority, the United States will be compelled to sit on the sidelines while other countries negotiate numerous preferential trade agreements that put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage. The more the United States cooperates with its friends, the less they’ll depend on U.S. rivals.
If we don’t write the rules of the global economy, somebody else will. Trade promotion authority not only opens markets and broadens opportunities for U.S. goods and firms; it will make the United States the leader in global trade.
By approving trade promotion authority, Congress can help strategically address the range of U.S. trade negotiations being pursued, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the United States and Asia-Pacific region, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and European Union.
Trade promotion authority is vital for the President of the United States to negotiate new multilateral, bilateral and sectoral agreements that will continue to tear down barriers to trade and investment, expand markets for U.S. farmers and businesses and create higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs for U.S. workers.
The CalChamber, 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 supports allowing California companies to compete more effectively in foreign markets, as well as to attract foreign business to California.
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.
The CalChamber is calling on members to contact their U.S. representatives and urge support for TPA-2015.
An easy-to-edit sample letter is available in the grassroots action center at www.calchambervotes.com.
For more information, please visit https://advocacy.calchamber.com/international/trade/trade-promotion-authority/.
Staff Contact: Susanne Stirling