Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
Time Is Right to Pass TPA
Congress is currently considering a large trade package, including legislation that would grant President Obama trade promotion authority (TPA), also called “fast track” negotiating authority.
TPA grants trade negotiating authority to the President to enter into international trade agreements with a guarantee that Congress will either approve or disapprove of a final agreement with no ability to amend or delay the measure through normal parliamentary procedures such as a filibuster.
Congress first created fast track authority in 1974, which provided congressional negotiating objectives to the executive branch for a timeframe of eight years. Since then, fast track has been extended five times in order to grant trade negotiating authority to cover negotiations over certain agreements. Fast track negotiating authority expired most recently in 2007 just after the completion of a number of free trade agreements (FTAs), including agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
In 2012, the Obama Administration indicated its desire to see TPA renewed to help secure a successful completion to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The administration has since also entered into negotiations with the European Union in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). USIFI and NFI have both defensive and offensive interests in both of these ongoing negotiations.
New fast track legislation was introduced the 114th Congress and includes textile-specific language. Subparagraph 2(b)(18) of the bill reads, “Textile Negotiations: The principal negotiating objectives with respect to trade in textiles and apparel are to obtain opportunities for U.S. exports of textiles and apparel in foreign markets substantially equivalent to the competitive opportunities afforded foreign exports in U.S. markets and to achieve fairer and more open conditions of trade in textiles and apparel.”
On May 22 the Senate passed TPA as part of a package that included Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which provides assistance to workers who have lost their jobs due to imports. On June 12, the House voted 219 to 211 to approve legislation renewing TPA; however, prior to the TPA vote, the House voted 126 to 302 to reject the TAA program. Under the rule governing the vote, the House had to pass both bills for the package to advance. The House is expected to hold another vote on TAA in the near future. If the House passes TAA, then they will have matched the Senate package and both provisions would advance to the president for signature into law.
Granting the Executive Branch trade promotion authority at this time will maximize the U.S. government’s leverage to negotiate the best possible TPP and TTIP deals for U.S. manufacturers of industrial and narrow fabrics. However, we will firmly oppose any TPA effort that includes harmful tariff preference levels (TPLs) for Nicaragua, Bahrain or Morocco or other provisions that are directly damaging to U.S. textile jobs, investment, and exports.