Friday, June 19, 2015
Billy Long: Free trade helps Missouri/Ozarks made products
Free trade is vital to the U.S. economy and is important to sharpen our global edge. However, accurate information is also vital when considering any trade policy. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and outright falsehoods being spread by different groups concerning our negotiations on trade. Here is my assessment of what is important for everyone to consider.
Free trade agreements are negotiated through the Executive Branch, which, given the track record of the Obama Administration’s foreign and economic policies, is a concern. Many southwest Missourians have told me they do not trust President Obama to negotiate trade deals, which is exactly why we need a mechanism to keep presidential power in check.
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is that mechanism, which Congress established in 1934 to strengthen its constitutional obligations to regulate trade with foreign nations and check the executive’s power while streamlining the trade agreement approval process. It last lapsed in 2007, and every president except Nixon and Obama has had TPA since Franklin Roosevelt.
As proposed, TPA would give Congress access to trade negotiations and require any negotiated trade deal to be public for 60 days prior to Congress making a decision. That strengthens accountability and transparency and makes sure we fully understand the ramifications of any trade deal. It sets 150 objectives any trade deal must meet to be considered under TPA. Any deal failing to meet the objectives in this TPA bill would be denied ‘fast-track authority’ and would be subject to congressional amendment. Congress would ultimately have the final say on trade deals, allowing the American people to hold their elected officials accountable.
TPA is not a trade deal, but rather a step added to the free trade agreement process. TPA has been confused with another acronym: TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. TPP continues to be negotiated among 12 nations surrounding the Pacific Ocean; therefore, TPP does not yet exist. TPA would be used to make TPP and other free trade deals over the next six years, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), more transparent and expose its details up to two months before Congress takes any final action. I voted for TPA because I want to see what is in TPP, and I want you to see it too.
Free trade helps American businesses access the 96 percent of the global market residing beyond our borders. TPA would be a law guiding negotiations to make sure free trade agreements are a win for American workers and to put us on a level playing field with countries that would not otherwise adhere to our rules. In other words, we set the standards for global trade – not China. We can make sure Americans get the best deal possible. We can grow the more than $650 million free trade impact on Missouri’s Seventh District. We can get more Ozarks-, Missouri- and American-made products to people around the world.