The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups are urging Congress to renew the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). These groups say the TPA strengthens trading agreements between the U.S. and other countries and therefore, creates more U.S. jobs and grows the economy. TPA gives Congress and the president more leverage and support in negotiating trade agreements. According to the executive office of the president, these are the key elements to the TPA:
- TPA outlines congressional guidance to the president on trade policy priorities and negotiating objectives.
- TPA establishes congressional requirements for the administration to notify and consult with Congress, with the private sector, with other stakeholders, and with the public during the negotiations of trade agreements.
- TPA defines the terms, conditions, and procedures under which Congress allows the administration to enter into trade agreements. It also sets the procedures for congressional consideration of bills to implement the agreements.
Also known as “fast-track authority,” the laws give the president more autonomy in negotiating agreements with the countries under two free-trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Those opposed to TPA say the authority is too aggressive and limits the role of Congress in important negotiations. They also say TPA will hurt American jobs and exposes the population to the risk of unsafe products.
The TPP targets 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the U.S. The agreement sets a baseline for countries to build a structure that opens markets to exchange goods and services. It is designed to level the competition, improve transparency among countries’ regulatory framework (including labor and environmental standards), and open Internet and data flow, among several other things. According to U.S. Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Tom Donohue: “Over the last two decades, the region’s middle class grew by 2 billion people, and its spending power is greater than ever. That number is expected to rise by another 1.2 billion by 2020. According to the International Monetary Fund, the world economy will grow by more than $20 trillion over the next five years, and nearly half of that growth will be in Asia.”
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
TTIP focuses on trade agreements between the United States and the European Union with the goal of facilitating goods movement. TTIP eases tariffs and overreaching regulations. It also access to investing in U.S. and European countries. The chamber estimates that the United States and the European Union represent half of all global economic output, producing $34 trillion in global domestic product.
In a statement to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Trade Promotion Authority, Donohue testified: “The U.S.-E.U. investment relationship is even more impressive. Companies headquartered in E.U. member states had invested nearly $1.7 trillion in the United States by the end of 2013; these companies employ more than 3.5 million Americans. Similarly, U.S. firms have invested $2.4 trillion in the European Union – a sum representing more than half of all U.S. investment abroad.” (Read Donohue’s statement here.)
Where Does TPA Stand Today
The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have both passed the TPA bills. These now make their way to both chambers, with House and Senate leadership indicating TPA will be addressed in May.
What do you think about TPA? Is this beneficial to your business or harmful? Should the president have this authority to negotiate agreements without congressional input? Let us know at mail@IWLA.com.