USTR Pushes for Trade Promotion Authority for the President

USTR Pushes for Trade Promotion Authority for the President

Republicans and Democrats remained split largely along party lines on fast track trade deal authority for the President at a Senate hearing earlier this week. Republicans argued for Presidential authority to speed trade deals through Congress without deal-killing amendments – though they demanded greater market access for conventional and biotech ag products – and fair treatment of those with geographical names – like parmesan cheese.

Finance Committee Democrats were much less supportive of President Obama’s request for Trade Promotion Authority – citing the loss of middle class jobs under previous trade deals and currency manipulation by countries like China. Top panel Democrat Ron Wyden told U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman…

“The President said in his State of the Union speech ‘Past trade agreements haven’t always lived up to the hype.’ My sense is, based on town hall meetings, is that middle class families are going to ask what will be different this time.”

Froman insisted the President is pursuing a new trade policy in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks and others…

“There will be strong labor and environmental protections in the core of the agreement, and they will be fully enforceable. And consistent with the rest of the agreement. That is important, because it is important for us to level the playing field.”

And though Froman didn’t say it – meet the demands of key Democratic constituencies, labor unions and environmentalists. Obama has told business groups he will have to sell his trade agenda to those groups – but longtime ag Senator Chuck Grassley had this advice…

“I hope you’ll tell him that if we are going to get trade promotion authority passed, he has to work the telephones one on one with some Senators to get us to the 60 vote threshold.”

Froman said the U.S. is making progress on opening Japan and other Asian markets to U.S. pork – but he denied a report in the Japanese press that the U.S. will give up on selling more autos into Japan in return for market access for rice. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee got an update on President Obama’s 2015 trade policy agenda and Froman says U.S. exports are strong…

“Since 2009, America’s total exports have grown by nearly 50% and contributed nearly 1/3 of our economic growth.”

Froman says the U.S. must be a global trade leader…

“That leadership is apparent in our work of the last year to advance the Trans-Pacific partnership. We have made important progress in the market access negotiations and in addressing a number of 21st century issues such as intellectual property, digital trade, competition with state owned enterprises and labor and environmental protections.”

At the November TPP leaders meeting – Froman says all 12 countries reaffirmed their commitment to getting a comprehensive, high standard agreement as soon as possible.

 


rgarrison@curtismedia.com'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.