The President’s authority for effectively negotiating trade agreements expires at midnight, June 30th. Now, we have no illusion that Congress is going to suddenly jump in and renew Trade Promotion Authority in the next day or so, but TPA deserves serious attention — and action — if the United States wants to retain its leadership in global trade.
The NAM has put together a resource page on TPA. Here are two key facts:
Under TPA the U.S. free trade agreements, including NAFTA, now account for close to half our manufactured goods exports — but only $30 billion out of our $530 billion manufactured goods trade deficit. The deficit with our TPA free trade partners hasn’t grown in five years, but the deficit with countries that have not agreed to have free trade agreements has soared.
The most pressing need is the reauthorization of TPA to allow continued negotiations on the Doha Round. There’s precedent for this targeted action; in January 1993, a Democratic-controlled Congress extended the authority for the Uruguay Round. Without the authority, U.S. Trade Rep Susan Schwab loses her ability to negotiate an ambitious agreement to level the playing field for America’s manufacturers, service providers and farmers. Six years of hard work goes for naught.
The NAM will be pushing trade issues during the Fourth of July recess and in August, so check back here for more on the topic over the next few months.
And for a good, if occasionally depressing scene-setter, check out this Daily Analysis from the Council on Foreign Relations, “A Tough Month on Trade.” A useful primer.
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