Trade Promotion Authority legislation introduced in Congress
On Jan. 9, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 (S.1900/HR 3830) was introduced by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., who chairs the House Ways & Means Committee.
This legislation, also known as “Trade Promotion Authority” (or TPA), provides for congressional consideration of a trade agreement without amendment; establishes negotiating objectives for trade agreements; and provides mechanisms for consultation between the administration and Congress during the process of a trade negotiation.
The previous trade promotion authority expired on July 1, 2007. Farm Bureau policy supports the renewal of trade promotion authority for the president of the United States.
TPA is viewed by other governments as a signal of serious congressional interest in moving ahead with trade negotiations. TPA legislation establishes the political support for and understanding of trade goals necessary for the administration and the Congress to negotiate and approve international trade agreements. The TPA would improve market access through tariff reduction and science based sanitary standards as chief negotiating objectives for agriculture.
“This trade negotiation authority is needed now,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “For negotiations to keep moving forward on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) discussions, we need the TPA authority in place. We urge Congress to pass the bill without delay and show that the United States is committed to completing these trade negotiations.”
The growth of U.S. agricultural exports, which exceeded $140 billion in 2013, contributes greatly to the economic well-being of farmers. Furthermore, on average, one out of every three acres in the U.S. is planted for export and farmers earn 25 percent of their farm income from exports.
The current Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations and the potential US-EU trade agreement offer the opportunity for added billions of dollars of future U.S. farm exports with the expansion of agricultural market opportunities by the reduction of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers. Without the ability to negotiate and ratify trade agreements through a new Trade Promotion Authority, potential markets and economic leadership may be lost to our competitors.
“The U.S. market is one of the most open in the world, yet our farmers and ranchers face high tariffs and other noncompetitive practices when they try to export their products,” said Stallman. “For U.S. agriculture to thrive, we have to correct these disparities and level the playing field. The current TPP and TTIP negotiations are our best chance to expand our trade opportunities, and only with TPA can we succeed in these negotiations.”
TPA provides that U.S. trade negotiators must participate in consultations with interested congressional committees and members, and it provides Congress with a strong role in the conduct of trade negotiations. Trade Promotion Authority was a critical component of the successful efforts to negotiate and pass trade agreements important to U.S. agriculture with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
The principal objective for agriculture in the legislation is to obtain competitive opportunities for U.S. exports of agricultural commodities through more open and equitable access to foreign markets. Objectives for agriculture in the legislation also include achieving science-based rules for sanitary and phytosanitary measures which are enforceable by full dispute settlement procedures.
Farmers are asked to contact their members of Congress to ask them to support a new Trade Promotion Authority that will benefit U.S. agriculture and establish a consensus for trade expansion.