This morning, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ron Wyden, both members of the Senate Budget and Finance Committees, to the Democrats' budget that would implement a deficit-neutral reserve fund that encourages swift movement on renewing Trade Promotion Authority. Portman is former United States Trade Representative.
"Exports are crucial to getting America's economy back on track, but unfortunately the United States is falling behind in the global marketplace," Portman said. "With 95 percent of the world's population beyond our borders, we must proactively engage our trading partners to tear down trade barriers. While I support the export agreements the Administration is considering, the President's trade negotiators must have TPA to ensure we get the best possible deal for American workers. I am open to 21st century reforms to TPA, but this must be prioritized in order to level the playing field for American workers."
The American economy depends on exports. In fact, just last month the Commerce Department announced that U.S. goods and services exports set a record in 2012, reaching $2.2 trillion last year. This is good progress, but there is still much ground to be covered in the global marketplace. As a percent of GDP, U.S. exports are just 13.9 percent, tied with Haiti and Pakistan.
The Administration is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership export agreement with 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. On Wednesday, the Administration formally notified Congress that they will soon launch export negotiations with the European Union. In addition, the Administration is negotiating an International Services Agreement, which seeks to bring down barriers for a sector that the U.S. has a large trade surplus and a major competitive advantage.
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) allows Congress to lay out important negotiating objectives and consultation requirements to ensure that our trade negotiators work closely with Congress to protect American workers, and to ensure that these export agreements can pass without delay.
In the 112th Congress, Senators Portman and Lieberman introduced a bipartisan bill to extend Trade Promotion Authority.
TPA lapsed in 2007, and the Administration said in the recently released 2013 Trade Agenda that they will work with Congress to authorize this important authority.