The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has approved the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill which gives the White House “fast track” authority to streamline the passage of international trade deals through Congress. It was approved on a 20 to 6 vote. If passed by the full Senate and the House in the coming weeks, the bill would require Congress rather than amending trade deals, by changing details to vote either up or down only. Such a bill is vital to finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal between the U.S., Canada, and 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
In addition to the TPA bill, the committee also approved three other bills “to bring new transparency, enforcement, and labor protections to trade agreements.” This includes provisions to beef up rules against countries found to be manipulating their currencies.
U.S. President Barack Obama has made the TPP a major focus of his efforts to boost U.S. economic investment in Asia. Many Democrats and labor union fear that it would not benefit the nation.
New trade agreements and partnerships with Asia and Europe, such as the Trade Promotion Authority, the TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are useful. But there needs to be stronger domestic support for these agreements so they can kick start the U.S. contribution to the global economy.