Letter to the U.S. SenateTrade Promotion Authority (H.R.3009)
To Members of the United States Senate:
On behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing three million businesses of every size, sector and region, I am writing to urge you to support final passage of H.R.3009 without amendments when it comes before the Senate. This legislation would grant the President Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which is vital to our efforts to knock down foreign barriers to American exports. The bill would also extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA), and expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program.
TPA is a vital tool for advancing U.S. interests worldwide. U.S. exports currently support more than 12 million American jobs, but we could do much more if the President had the authority he needs to negotiate trade deals with foreign countries. TPA is particularly critical for our small business members – 97 percent of all exporters are small businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
Our competitors are not standing still, and we are losing out every day we do not have TPA. The European Union has free trade agreements with 27 countries. Mexico has over 30 such agreements. The European Union is also negotiating free-trade agreements with the Mercosur countries of South America and the Gulf Cooperation Council member states in the Persian Gulf region. And while there are approximately 150 free trade agreements in force globally, the United States is a party to just three – one is with Canada and Mexico (NAFTA), another with Israel, and a third with Jordan. The United States has failed to show resolve in leading the way, and the president's lack of TPA has sapped the credibility of Washington's pro-trade agenda.
Passage of a bipartisan TPA compromise by the House of Representatives last year was a watershed. We have the opportunity now to take the final step, which will ensure the creation of jobs and economic opportunity for American workers, businesses and consumers far into the future. Opponents will seek to derail H.R. 3009 by loading the bill up with poison pills and killer amendments, many of which have nothing to do with trade. We will vigorously oppose these efforts. These killer amendments include:
- Dayton-Craig – We oppose this amendment, which seeks to wall off certain provisions in any future trade agreements. This selective TPA approach is unworkable – it would invite retaliation by our trading partners or disengagement from negotiations at a time when the President needs Trade Promotion Authority to open foreign markets.
- Kerry Chapter 11 – We oppose the Kerry amendment, which is based on a fundamental misapprehension about the effect of dispute resolution provisions under NAFTA. The Chapter 11 provisions seek to obtain due process for American firms abroad comparable to that which they receive in the U.S. The Kerry amendment would weaken these protections, leaving us vulnerable abroad.
Make no mistake. The Chamber of Commerce and the millions of American business employees and families we represent are watching the Senate votes on TPA very carefully. The time to act is now – without further delay. We need your vote. Pass H.R. 3009 without poison pill amendments.
Because of the critical importance of TPA to working families, small businesses and the American economy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will use votes on or in relation to TPA and H.R. 3009 in our annual "How They Voted" guide to Congress.
Thomas J. Donohue
President and CEO
U.S. Chamber of Commerce