Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) Facts

What is TPA?
TPA is a legislative procedure, written by Congress, through which Congress defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the President to follow throughout the negotiation process. At the end of the negotiation and consultation process, Congress gives the agreement an up or down vote, without amendment. TPA does not provide new power to the Executive Branch, but rather it reaffirms Congress’s overall constitutional role in the development and oversight of U.S. trade policy.

[Source: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative]

Why Does America Need Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)?

Reason 1: Trade Supports Growth and Jobs

  • Outside our borders are markets that represent 80% of the world’s purchasing power, 92% of its economic growth, and 95% of its consumers.
  • Trade already supports 38 million American jobs.
  • One in three manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on American farms is planted for export.
  • U.S. services exports top $600 billion, leading the world rankings.

Reason 2: Trade is Vital to Small Business

  • More than 97% of the 300,000 U.S. companies that export their products are small and medium-sized companies.
  • Small firms account for more than one-third of all U.S. merchandise exports.

Reason 3: Trade Agreements Level the Playing Field

  • Many countries slap tariffs on U.S. exports that are ten or twenty times as high as our own, and a web of non-tariff barriers overseas often shut out U.S. goods and services.
  • Trade agreements can tear down those barriers. That’s why U.S. exports to new free-trade agreement (FTA) partners have grown on average four times as rapidly in the period following an agreement’s entry-into-force as U.S. exports globally.
  • The expansion in trade spurred by FTAs sustains more than five million American jobs.
  • While they represent just 10% of global GDP, America’s 20 FTA partners buy nearly half of U.S. exports.
  • The U.S. has a trade surplus with its 20 FTA partners in manufactures, services, and agricultural products.

Reason 4: We Can Do More to Seize the Benefits of Trade

  • To extend these benefits, the U.S. has embarked on a bold new trade agenda that includes negotiations for 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 nearly 50 other countries.

Reason 5: To Do Any of the Above, America Needs TPA

  • But to finalize any of these agreements, Congress must approve Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
  • The Constitution gives Congress authority to regulate international trade, but it gives the President authority to negotiate with foreign governments.
  • TPA builds on this constitutional partnership by requiring the executive branch to consult extensively with Congress during negotiations while assuring U.S. trading partners that agreements will receive an up-or-down vote.
  • Every President since Franklin D. Roosevelt has had TPA; every President should have it.

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Learn More about TPA and the Chamber's policy recommendations.