Retailers are urging Congress to extend presidential Trade Promotion Authority. World Trade Organization negotiators are now getting back to work on the Doha Round trade talks, but without Congressional approval, TPA will expire this summer.
TPA authorizes the President to enter into trade agreements and provides Congressional guidance on negotiating objectives that should be met by those agreements. In return, Congress can approve or reject the agreements, but it cannot amend them. TPA provides a practical and positive mechanism to facilitate trade, an area in which Congress and the President have shared responsibility, according to many trade associations.
On the belief that TPA is essential to the U.S.'s participation in the Doha Round of trade negotiations, retail groups are joining with others to ensure that Congress not only extends TPA, but also does so before WTO negotiations begin.
"TPA is essential to ensure that the President can work with Congress in setting objectives and negotiating trade agreements without those agreements being picked apart during the legislative process," says Erik Autor, vice president and international trade counsel for the National Retail Federation (NRF). "No country will agree to negotiate a trade agreement with the United States only to undertake a second negotiation with 535 members of Congress."
"Agreements that affect global trade have too big an impact on the U.S. economy for us to allow ourselves to be put on the sidelines by letting TPA expire," Autor adds.
"TPA is important to retailers because we rely on goods from around the world to stock our shelves and provide American working families with daily necessities," he says. "Retailers' ability to conduct commerce, free of trade barriers, is essential not only to the health and growth of our industry, but to the ability of consumers to buy the products they need at prices they can afford."
The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is also leading the fight to extend TPA. It has joined the Trade for America coalition of retail, agriculture, high technology, consumer, manufacturing, and service organizations, dedicated to achieving renewal of presidential Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
"Global integration is a reality, and the question for U.S. lawmakers is not whether to participate in the global economy, but how to create the best opportunities for U.S. businesses to compete and win," says Sandy Kennedy, president of RILA. "TPA provides the necessary tools to promote and shape trade policy in a way that can benefit all Americans.
"RILA and its members are champions for trade expansion and recognize that trade is essential to providing U.S. consumers with the quality and variety of products they expect at prices they can afford, and to creating opportunities for U.S. retailers to offer goods and services to customers around the world," she continues. "New trade agreements simply will not be possible without TPA, and the United States cannot afford to let that happen."
The NRF has actively pushed for approval of a new global trade agreement under the Doha Round, and has led retail delegations to WTO headquarters in Geneva and to ministerial conferences in Cancun and Hong Kong. Among other goals, NRF has sought the substantial reduction and eventual elimination of all tariffs on consumer goods and processed food.
The federation has also pushed for increased market access to allow the opening of retail operations in foreign markets, fairer rules governing the use of trade remedies procedures, better enforcement of trade related intellectual property rights and simplification of worldwide customs procedures.
In January, NRF and other members of the Forum for International Retail Association Executives, which met during NRF's annual convention in New York, called on WTO nations to redouble their efforts to revive Doha Round talks.
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