TPA was last enacted in 2002 and expired in 2007. It allows the US president to negotiate trade agreements, and the US Congress to set priorities and retain its authority to approve or disapprove those treaties through an up-or-down vote - proponents say that is an incentive for negotiating nations to put their best offer forward for any agreement.
Essentially the legislation - Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 - is about fast tracking Congressional approval of international trade deals.
This timing of the new bill is significant, said the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) given that the US is currently in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
But Congress needs to act swiftly to enact TPA, said Joel Newman, AFIA president. Without it, US negotiators “will lack authority and have limited ability and leverage when negotiating free trade agreements,” he said.
Gina Tumbarello, AFIA manager of international trade, told us previously: “The future growth of the US feed industry lies in exports, whether it be directly, or indirectly through meat and dairy exports, and the feed industry needs the support of the administration to remove barriers to trade and enforce trade rules. The most opportunistic path for this is through free trade agreements such as TPP and TTIP with the EU."
Both TPP and TTIP would give the US feed and agriculture sectors access to new markets.
“In 2014 alone, the US exported more than $10 billion worth of feed, feed ingredients and pet food, and we recognize the exceptional room for growth and the impact this legislation could have.
As we look to the future, the US animal food industry recognizes trade is a large part of the big picture,” said Newman.
US National Chicken Council (NCC) President, Mike Brown, agreed that prompt passage of the new legislation would strengthen the position of US international trade negotiators.
The NCC noted how, at one time, Russia and China were the two largest poultry export markets for the US, but due to various upheavals in those regions, trade with those two powerhouses has been curtailed from previous levels. "It is now more important than ever to expand poultry sales to other world markets," added Brown.
Accountability and transparency
The AFIA said the TPA bill introduced yesterday includes significant improvements to the 2002 TPA law in areas such as non-tariff barriers to US goods and services, digital commerce, restrictions on cross-border data flows, fair competition with state-owned enterprises, labor and environmental standards.
It is also said to include a new mechanism to withdraw TPA procedures and hold the administration accountable should it fail to meet the requirements of the legislation.
But opponents of the bill - many Democrats as well as Republicans - said it is undemocratic as it cedes Congressional authority on trade deals to the White House.