Apr 22, 2015 - 3:45pm

Trade Acronyms and the Need for TPA: Let’s Spell It Out

There’s definitely a lingo when it comes to Washington, and Congress can sometimes be hard to follow – especially with all the acronyms flying around.

And pending and vital trade issues provide an alphabet soup to sort through: TPA, TPP, TTIP, AGOA, GSP, WTO.

Now, it’s true that lawmakers like to keep things short and catchy. That even prompted Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) to introduce the ACRONYM (Accountability and Congressional Responsibility on Naming Your Motions) Act -- to prohibit the needless addition of words to bill titles.

Trade is clearly in a different boat, but that doesn’t mean it is any easier to follow. And there’s lots happening with the much-needed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation.

Senate and House panels are conducting mark-ups this week on the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. And U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue testified Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee on the need for TPA renewal and the benefits of the trade agreements that can come from it.

With the issue front and center on the Hill, what better time to brush up on all those abbreviations? Here’s an explainer, with guidance from USTR – yet another acronym (see below).

Clip and save this as things move through Congress:

TPA (Trade Promotion Authority): Congress is debating TPA legislation that will define U.S. negotiating objectives for trade agreements and hold the administration accountable on both these objectives and appropriate consultation during trade talks. Read more about TPA here

TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership): A trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the United States and 11 other countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam). Read more about TPP here

TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership): Trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the United States and the European Union (EU). Read more about TTIP here

AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act): A U.S. preference program eliminating tariffs on select imports from sub-Saharan Africa; it will lapse on September 30, 2015, absent congressional action. Read more about AGOA here

GSP (Generalized System of Preferences): This legislation has promoted economic growth in developing countries by providing duty-free access to the U.S. market for select goodsIt lapsed on July 31, 2013. Read more about GSP here

ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement): A mechanism included in thousands of trade and investment agreements around the world providing for neutral arbitration of investment disputes. Read more about ISDS here

TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance): This federal program provides assistance and training to displaced U.S. workers, and its renewal is being debated today in Congress.

TISA (Trade in Services Agreement): Trade agreement now under negotiation focused exclusively on service industries. It will encompass rules aimed at promoting fair and open trade – from telecommunications and technology to distribution and delivery services. Read more about TSIA here.

USTR (United States Trade Representative): The office of USTR is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade negotiations with other countries. The head of USTR, the U.S. trade representative, is a Cabinet member who serves as the president’s principal trade advisor, negotiator and spokesperson on trade issues.

WTO (World Trade Organization): The multilateral organization that embodies and upholds the global rules-based trading system.

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