Passage of TPA signals that the US ‘means business’ in trade talks
17 Jul, 2015
After months of wrangling and controversy, Congress has passed the bill that authorizes trade promotion authority, or “TPA.”
Farm Bureau was a strong supporter of the legislation.
“We lead the world in agricultural exports but will soon give up customers and potential markets without the trade promotion authority needed to secure important new trade agreements,” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said shortly before the bill’s passage.
The bill was approved by the House on a narrow 218-208 vote, then by the Senate 60-38. It was signed by President Obama on June 29. The trade promotion authority authorized by the legislation now lasts until 2018 and can be extended until 2021.
The passage “sends a strong signal to foreign governments that we mean business at the bargaining table and are ready to complete new agreements that will break down trade barriers and open new markets from Asia to Europe,” Stallman said.
According to AFBF, U.S. agricultural exports exceeded $152 billion last year, but could fall this year due in part to the challenges U.S. negotiators are facing in reducing trade barriers.
Indiana is a leading producer and exporter of agricultural products, ranking 8th among the 50 U.S. states in the value of its agricultural exports, according to the USDA’s TPA fact sheet (www.fas.usda.gov/trade-promotion-authority-state-specific-information).
“Hoosier farmers rely on foreign markets and exports at a greater level than most other states,” said Kyle Cline, Indiana Farm Bureau national policy advisor. “Passage of TPA will provide the necessary framework to complete historic trade agreements like TPP, boosting demand for our ag products while increasing farm incomes.”
Trade promotion authority (sometimes called “fast-track trade authority”) is an administrative tool that defines the framework for considering trade agreements. Under TPA, Congress retains final approval authority and its critical role in setting objectives and priorities for trade negotiations, but the authority eliminates the possibility of deal-killing amendments. It’s been used by every presidential administration for over 30 years.
Now that TPA has become law, Farm Bureau is now concentrating on two key treaties: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
“Without the ability to finish negotiations and present those agreements to Congress for an up or down ratification vote, we are ceding potential market development and expansion to our competitors and yielding global economic leadership to other nations,” Stallman said in a letter to lawmakers urging them to pass the TPA bill.
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