Trade Promotion Authority: Do We Need a New Approach?

October 29, 2014

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), a law that allows the President to “fast-track” trade agreements for approval or disapproval by Congress by only allowing a “yes or no” vote, is a contentious issue. While it is crucial, especially given that the Obama Administration is in the middle of negotiations for two different potentially transformative trade agreements — the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) — it also raises questions of the appropriate delegation of Congressional authority over trade. How will this round of TPA renewal change the conversation about Trade Promotion Authority going forward? Is it time for a new approach to TPA, perhaps paired with a new approach to trade policy in the United States? Where does the TPA fit with regard to the strategic trade theory America so desperately needs but woefully lacks? And what benefits could be realized from a new approach?