WASHINGTON, DC -- Following what looked to be defeat during a complicated series of votes in Congress one week ago, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) looks back on track and could be sent to the president’s desk prior to the July 4 Congressional recess. The House passed stand-alone TPA legislation yesterday, and Senate leadership hopes to vote on the measure next week.
TPA sets specific objectives for the administration to follow in negotiating trade agreements and provides consultation requirements as negotiations proceed. In exchange, Congress agrees to forego the ability to amend completed trade agreements when these agreements are sent to Congress for approval. The agreements receive an up-or-down vote by Congress.
Nonetheless, hurdles remain. Opposition to TPA is strong among many Democratic and some Republican Members, and this opposition defeated a renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) last week in the House. TAA was paired with TPA and its defeat sidetracked a complex plan to approve TPA.
“This has been a confusing week in trade, but it’s important to remember that TPA is absolutely necessary to convince our trading partners that the U.S. is serious about concluding trade agreements and to get the other side to put their best offer on the table,” said Bob Cummings, USA Rice COO.
“TPA was necessary to complete NAFTA and the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, both very good for the U.S. rice industry, and support for TPA is part of USA Rice’s push for good outcomes in the two big negotiations currently underway – the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Cummings continued. “While we’re behind TPA for our long term interests, we’re very focused on making sure the administration is getting the best deal possible for U.S. rice farmers and exporters in the current TPP negotiations, and we’ll assess our support for TPP on the deal’s merits.”