WASHINGTON—In advance of Friday’s House vote on a bill to grant the President Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), Robert Atkinson, President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released the following statement encouraging support for the bill, which passed the Senate in May:
We urge members of the House of Representatives to vote yes on Trade Promotion Authority. Without TPA, the United States risks sacrificing its ability to effectively shape the terms on which globalization and future global trade occurs. Make no mistake about it, unless the United States leads on trade negotiations with other nations, U.S. firms and U.S. workers will end up the losers.
TPA will enable the United States to negotiate trade agreements that better protect U.S. economic interests because it will streamline Congressional review and approval, which in turn will create a strong incentive for our trading partners to engage in good faith negotiations. As U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman has said, “[B]y ensuring that Congress will consider trade agreements as they have been negotiated by the executive branch, trade promotion authority would give U.S. trading partners the necessary confidence to put their best and final offers on the table.”
Presidents need fast-track negotiating authority because the simple reality is that finding consensus on trade agreements becomes nearly impossible if all 535 members of Congress get a chance to rewrite the terms that American officials have already spent painstaking years negotiating with multiple governments.
Another virtue of TPA is that it increases transparency in U.S. trade policy by establishing consultation and notification requirements for the president and USTR to follow throughout the trade agreement negotiation process—ensuring that Congress, interested stakeholders, and the general public are closely involved before, during, and after the conclusion of trade negotiations.
TPA thus constitutes an effective mechanism for Congress to delegate its constitutional authority to U.S. negotiators. And that’s why, since TPA’s inception in 1974, it has been used successfully by both liberal and conservative presidents and Congresses to complete many of the agreements we have now, including the North American Free Trade Agreement under President Clinton and the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea under President George W. Bush.
We hope the House will pass this bill without delay.