A bill to reinstate the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also called the fast track negotiating authority of the President of the United States, has been submitted to Capitol Hill. The TPA will prevent its trade partners from tampering with the foreign exchange rate in the framework of the free trade agreements (FTAs) currently under negotiation, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
According to foreign news agencies, Democrat Max Baucus (Montana) and Republican Orrin Hatch (Utah) on the Senate Finance Committee and Republican Dave Camp (Michigan), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, submitted the bill to the White House on January 9 (local time).
The bill includes stipulations about the reinstatement of the TPA, protection of labor, environment, and intellectual property rights, and prohibition of exchange rate manipulation on the part of trade partner countries.
The TPA, in short, is about Congress entrusting the President with full power over trade talks, so that the negotiations can proceed without unnecessary delays. The results of the talks cannot be modified, and Congress is allowed to only approve or refuse the results by voting. The idea is to alleviate the concerns that inter-country agreements could be changed during ratification in the US Congress.
The TPA, which incidentally was used with the KORUS FTA, expired in late 2007. Since then, President Barack Obama has demanded that Congress reinstate the TPA so as to expedite the settlement of the TPP and the FTA between the US and the EU.
Still, it is not certain whether or not the bill will be passed, because labor unions and environmental protection groups are opposed to the FTAs ahead of the off-year election scheduled for November. Even some in Capitol Hill are against the reinstatement of the TPA, demanding that their political circles be in full control of all negotiation processes and details.