President Calls for TPA to Implement Trade Pacts, Receives Industry Recommendations
In two meetings with business leaders last week, President Obama emphasized the importance of two major trade liberalization agreements currently under negotiation to the ongoing economic recovery. The president said he needs trade promotion authority to implement those agreements and secure the anticipated benefits, including greater exports to Europe and Asia. He also received recommendations on issues ranging from trade facilitation to encryption.
In Sept. 18 remarks to the Business Roundtable, the president said the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a dozen countries from around the Pacific Rim and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the 28 member countries of the European Union will provide greater access for U.S. companies to “essentially two-thirds of the world markets.” The following day he told the President’s Export Council that TPP talks are “very far along” and that the TTIP aims to enhance what is already “the largest trading relationship in the world by far.” He asserted that Congress needs to approve TPA to ensure these agreements can be successfully concluded and implemented and expressed hope that there is sufficient bipartisan support among lawmakers to make that happen.
Obama noted to the PEC that U.S. exports have increased for the last three years and that U.S. companies “now sell more goods overseas than ever before.” However, he made no mention of the National Export Initiative or its goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Many observers have said this objective no longer appears viable because the pace of U.S. export growth has continued to slow due to continued economic instability in foreign markets. According to a Reuters article, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker acknowledged this situation to the PEC and said she will review the initiative so the administration can “refocus our energy on the areas that make the biggest difference and have the greatest impact.”
The PEC also approved a series of letters to the president that supported a new TPA bill, urged greater efforts to secure multilateral agreements on trade facilitation and services trade, expressed concern about local content requirements and other localization barriers to trade and investment in foreign countries, emphasized the importance of strong IPR protections in the TPP negotiations, backed the president’s decision to suspend talks on expanding the Information Technology Agreement until China reduces the list of goods it wants to exclude, highlighted efforts to increase the ability of U.S. companies to sell to foreign governments, called for an increase in the value below which imports are free from duties and formal customs procedures (currently set at $200), and requested clarification on regulations concerning commercial satellites and encryption items and software.