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IMA Executive News & Views Blog

President Requests Trade Promotion Authority and Submits Mandated Report

by the National Association of Manufacturers

On Tuesday, March 20, the President made his formal request to Congress to extend Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the congressional-executive framework most recently put in place in 2015. TPA is currently set to expire on June 30. This extension request, if not disapproved by either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate, would extend TPA procedures for three years and apply to agreements entered into before July 1, 2021.

As part of the TPA requirements for extension, the administration also submitted this report to:

  • Describe trade agreements that were or are being negotiated under TPA procedures and the anticipated schedule for submitting agreements to Congress for approval;
  • Provide a description of the progress that has been made in negotiations to achieve the purposes, policies, priorities, and objectives in the TPA legislation and a statement that such progress justifies the continuation of negotiations; and
  • Provide a statement of the reasons why the extension is needed to complete the negotiations.

The report focuses on actual or potential negotiations as follows:

  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): The report summarizes the efforts of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to update and modernize NAFTA rules and to rebalance NAFTA, emphasizing USTR’s desire to change rules that it believes have led to trade imbalances, offshoring and other problems. The report provides no timeline for the conclusion of the talks, noting that the “Administration does not want to set artificial deadlines for conclusion.”
  • World Trade Organization (WTO): The report indicates the administration’s focus on seeking to work through the WTO to:

o   Reset agricultural rules that perpetuate “unfair and protectionist measures;”

o   Curb fisheries subsidies that have led to the overexploitation of fisheries resources; and

o   Develop commercially meaningful rules to address restrictions on digital trade and work with like-minded member to move forward digital trade issues.

  • United Kingdom: The report notes the ongoing discussions between the United States and the United Kingdom on commercial and trade issues, noting the creation of the Trade and Investment Working Group. The report notes that the TPA extension is particularly needed given that the UK is constrained from negotiating new trade agreements while it is negotiating its separation from the EU
  • Countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): The report notes President Trump’s “willingness to engage with the other TPP countries – either individually or collectively – on terms that will lead to significantly improved market outcomes.” There was no mention, however, of an intent to start any specific negotiations.
  • Other Negotiations: The report indicates that the administration is exploring other potential trade negotiations, including with partners in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The report makes no mention at all the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) talks that are taking place under provisions of the existing agreement both to improve implementation but also to modify the underlying agreement.

 

To learn more, contact Linda Menghetti Dempsey at ldempsey@nam.org.

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