The President Needs Trade Promotion Authority

Jan 25, 2013

U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President for International Affairs, Myron Brilliant, testifies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Photographer: Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

With 95% of the world’s customers living outside the United States, one in three American manufacturing jobs supported by exports, and one-third of U.S. farm acreage going to overseas, there’s opportunity for growth by lowering trade barriers, and opening markets for American goods and services.  

To help get this done, Congress should get to work on giving the president trade promotion authority (TPA). Also known as “fast-track authority,” it allows the president to submit trade agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote. TPA, which expired in 2007, has been granted to every president from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush. President Obama shouldn’t be left out.

Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber’s Senior Vice President for International Affairs asked Congress and the administration to begin talking about TPA:

We want to encourage them to have a conversation about what the right process is and how to move this forward. I think it’s not too early to begin to have those private conversations. Clearly, it’s a priority for us in the business community.

As work continues on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), talk of launching negotiations for a U.S.-E.U. agreement gets serious, and work begins on an International Services Agreement, a multi-year TPA will be needed to put U.S. negotiators in a strong negotiating position and to get such agreements through Congress when they’re finalized.

TPA is the top item on the U.S. Chamber’s list of International Trade and Investment Priorities (see below). Other priorities in President Obama’s second term include finishing TPP, beginning U.S.-E.U. trade negotiations, negotiating an International Services Agreement, and negotiating bilateral investment treaties with China, India and other key markets.

But without TPA, it’ll be that much harder to achieve these other priorities, and we’ll miss out these jobs and growth opportunities.

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