Congress Introduces Pro-Travel Legislation to Fast-Track Trade Agreements

International Trade

Congress on Thursday introduced a new "Trade Promotion Authority" (TPA) bill that would "fast track" the Obama administration's ability to form new international trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed treaty to enhance trade between the United States and 11 other Pacific nations: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Under proposed TPA rules, the president's administration would have authority to negotiate trade deals on the international stage on behalf of the United States. Negotiated deals would then be presented to Congress for an up or down vote. Congress would not have latitude to amend or alter proposed deals.

"At a moment when 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we must make sure that we, and not countries like China, are writing the rules for the global economy," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "Our exports support more than 11 million good American jobs, and we know that companies that export pay higher wages than those that don't. Today, we have the opportunity to open even more new markets to goods and services backed by three proud words: Made in America.  I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pass this bill, seize this opportunity, and support more good American jobs with the wages and benefits hardworking families deserve."

Although it includes protections for labor, the environment, and a free and open Internet, labor unions, environmental, and Internet advocacy groups oppose TPA on grounds that protections don't go far enough.

The travel industry, on the other hand, applauded TPA and urged its swift passage.

"It should please any supporter of robust economic activity and job growth that Congress and the White House are trying to move TPA forward. The travel community urges leaders in both parties and both chambers to find the path to this measure's long-overdue implementation," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "TPA passage will even further rev the engine of the U.S. travel sector, which has already been among the most productive and fastest-recovering portions of the economy since the recession. More trade equals more business activity, which equals more overseas visitors to the U.S., who are like a magical economic elixir: They spend an average of $4,300 per trip and support one new American job per every 36 of them, while consuming virtually no public services. TPA is one of those policies that simply makes abundant sense."

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