Congress is being urged by a top trade official to back trade agenda set out be the administration.
The trade agenda in question relates to a Pacific trade pact which is coming to completion and is seen as vital for future relations.
According to Reuters, Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative, said the administration looked to lawmakers to pass bipartisan legislation allowing a streamlined approval process for trade deals, such as the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership. In remarks prepared for delivery to key congressional committees,
TPP chief negotiators are meeting in New York this week and some hope the pact can be finalised by as early as mid-March.
“The contours of a final agreement are coming into focus, and we have made important progress in the market access negotiations and in addressing a number of twenty-first century issues,” Froman said in his testimony, according to excerpts released by his office in advance, pointing to intellectual property, digital trade and labour and environmental rules and reported by Reuters.
This new trade agreement would see the White House finalise trade agreements that would see America covering a massive 40 percent of the global economy but the fast track legislation is facing criticism from some Democrats who are concerned about how the trade agreement could potentially affect jobs. The legislation is also being opposed by some members of the Republican party who have concerns about giving more power to President Barack Obama so late in his term.
According to Reuters, trade promotion authority allows the White House to submit trade deals to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, without amendments, in exchange for setting negotiating goals. Lobbying is intense on both sides of the argument. Business groups and unions are bringing business owners to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers about their experience with trade and urging letter-writing campaigns. Senior administration officials are calling individual lawmakers, aiming to reach out to about 80 Democratic House members.
Reuters reported that the committee chairman Orrin Hatch said TPA would ensure a high-standard TPP and it would be a “grave mistake” to close the deal before the bill passed.
“Doing so may lead to doubt as to whether the U.S. could have gotten a better agreement, ultimately eroding support for TPP and jeopardizing its prospects for passage,” he said in prepared remarks.
Froman concluded in favour by saying: “Our trade agenda is committed to supporting more good jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening America’s middle class,” he said.