Thursday, March 22 , 2018, 10:44 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


Tom Donohue: Want More Trade? Renewal of TPA Needs to Be a Top Priority

Want to see the vibrant markets of the Asia-Pacific open up to U.S. goods and services, creating hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs and boosting exports by more than $100 billion annually? Excited about the prospect of a bold new commercial agreement between the United States and Europe that would drive major economic benefits on both sides of the pond?

Then you better be for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) — because we can’t secure new trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership without it.

TPA is based on the commonsense notion that Congress and the White House should work together on trade. TPA gives elected lawmakers a strong voice on trade. It lets Congress set negotiating objectives and requires the administration to consult closely with the legislative branch during trade talks. And it reserves for Congress the final say on any new trade agreement in the form of an up-or-down vote.

TPA also strengthens the hand of U.S. negotiators. When the United States sits down at the negotiating table with potential trade partners, those partners must be able to trust us. Countries need to know that the deal the administration wants is the deal Congress wants. If they don’t, why go through the motions? Most important, TPA allows U.S. negotiators to secure the best possible agreement for American workers, farmers, and companies.

What TPA doesn’t do is give the president unlimited power, as some have suggested. In fact, it ensures an appropriate balance between the executive and legislative branches —something we could use a lot more of these days!

Far from being a new or novel concept, TPA has been a key part of U.S. trade diplomacy since 1934. Every president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has had it—and every president should have it. It is regularly renewed, but it expired in 2007. We cannot afford to be without it much longer.

It’s the job of Congress to introduce, debate and pass TPA legislation — but all the stakeholders must rally together to get it across the finish line. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with partners in business and agriculture to keep the pressure on lawmakers. We are urging the president to step up his efforts to win congressional approval — we’ll do everything we can to help him.

The bottom line is that you can’t be pro-trade and anti-TPA. Renewal of TPA is priority No. 1 if our nation wants to realize the vast but largely untapped potential of greater international trade. If we seize the opportunity, we can add jobs, drive growth and reassert American leadership in the global economy.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.

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