U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, issued the following statement after the Obama Administration released its Trade Policy Agenda for 2013:
"I'm an eternal optimist and that's certainly true for what I hope the White House is willing to do in pursuit of the trade agenda it unveiled today. Negotiations to conclude a Trans-Pacific Partnership and launching negotiations with the European Union are promising starts. But a strong trade agenda is more than just starting negotiations, it requires making the tough political choices necessary to conclude them and close cooperation and consultation with Congress to ensure any trade agreement ultimately becomes law.
"Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is the lynchpin that brings these elements together. It articulates a shared trade vision for our country, and lays out clear rules and procedures for consultation and consideration of any trade agreement. And while I'm pleased that the White House has finally heeded my call and is asking for its renewal, making TPA a reality requires more than talk, it demands real leadership and action from the President. Every President since FDR has sought this authority from Congress, because they've understood that trade is good for America.
"Once a global leader on trade, the United States is now falling behind. Ninety--two percent of global economic growth and eighty percent of the world's purchasing power lies beyond our borders. Our workers need to be able to access those growing markets. According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), an estimated 400 free trade agreements (FTA) were implemented around the world by the end of 2010, more than half of which were negotiated since 2002. Yet the United States has only 14 agreements with 20 countries in force - with two more under negotiation. Our stagnant economy needs the boost that trade can provide. I hope the President recognizes this reality and begins to work with Congress immediately on legislation to renew TPA."
NOTE: A longtime advocate of breaking down trade barriers, Hatch has repeatedly called on the President to work with Congress to renew TPA, which expired in 2007. Most recently, Hatch joined Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in a letter to U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk announcing their intent to push for the renewal of TPA to ensure the consideration and completion of a successful U.S.-EU FTA.