Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a prerequisite for the negotiation of new market-opening trade agreements, and the Chamber has been a staunch supporter of this longstanding tool. Its renewal in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 is a bipartisan accomplishment that will allow officials to negotiate new trade pacts to drive economic growth and job creation here at home.
TPA is based on the commonsense notion that Congress and the White House should work together on trade. In keeping with the law’s formal name, TPA establishes priorities for trade negotiations. Through this legislation, members of Congress have established nearly 150 negotiating objectives—from beefing up protections for U.S. intellectual property to eliminating kickbacks for government-owned firms—for U.S. negotiators to follow. In this sense, TPA strengthens the voice of Congress in trade policy.
Second, the bill ensures accountability in trade negotiations. It sets strict terms for executive-legislative consultation that will allow members of Congress to hold the White House to account during negotiations—and after an agreement is reached. It also establishes new transparency standards.
Finally, before any trade agreement becomes law, Congress gets the final say in the form of an up or down vote. The Constitution vests all legislative power in Congress, so TPA makes it clear that only Congress can change U.S. law.
While foreign governments may initiate negotiations with the United States without TPA in place, they have historically proven leery of making the difficult political choices associated with the final stages of negotiations in its absence. In this sense, TPA strengthens the hand of U.S. negotiators, helping them secure the best possible deal for U.S. workers, farmers and companies.
According to the WTO, more than 400 bilateral or plurilateral FTAs are in force around the globe today, but the United States has FTAs with just 20 countries. There are more than 100 FTAs currently under negotiation among our trading partners.
As the Chamber has long argued, the United States cannot afford to stand aside as foreign governments rewrite the rules of international trade and American companies are placed at a competitive disadvantage in market after market. If we do, American workers and farmers will pay the price.
The good news is that the United States has initiated negotiations for a series of ambitious new trade pacts, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with 11 other Asia-Pacific nations; the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, with the European Union; and the Trade in Services Agreement, with more than 50 other countries. But to conclude any of these, TPA is required.
By renewing TPA, Congress has revived prospects for new trade agreements that will open overseas markets and spur U.S. economic growth and job creation. The Chamber applauds this bipartisan effort to enhance U.S. competitiveness and restore American leadership in the councils of international trade.
- Congress should be applauded for renewing Trade Promotion Authority to allow the negotiation of new job-creating trade agreements.
- TPA has been structured to clarify the checks and balances in the Constitution’s executive/legislative partnership on trade, with Congress setting negotiating objectives and the Executive Branch consulting with legislators throughout the process.
- The terms of TPA should be followed diligently to secure the strongest possible trade agreements with direct benefits for American workers, farmers, and companies.