Obama Signs Two Global Trade Bills
President Barack Obama signed two pieces of legislation addressing issues of international trade at a White House signing ceremony yesterday.
The first bill granted the president trade promotion authority (TPA), a provision which will impact negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The second bill, the Trade Preferences and Extension Act, included support for job training for displaced U.S. workers, reauthorization of the the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), provisions for fighting unfair trade practices, and other provisions relating to economic development in Africa and Haiti.
Trade promotion authority allows the president to present trade agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote and without amendments or reservations. TPP is a proposed trade and investment treaty among twelve countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
TPA was opposed by labor and environmental groups who argue that the TPP will not include adequate protections for workers and the environment. Obama dismissed these concerns.
He added: “I would not be signing these bills if I was not absolutely convinced that these pieces of legislation are ultimately good for American workers. I would not be signing them if I wasn’t convinced they’d be good for American businesses. I would not be signing them if I did not know that they will give us a competitive edge in this new economy, and that that new economy cannot be reversed.”
The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) provisions of the second bill supports a Department of Labor program that provides job training, income support, and other benefits to American workers displaced by globalization.
GSP, a program which has been around since 1974, expired in 2013. The president’s signature reinstituted a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing duty-free entry into the U.S. for 5,000 products from 122 designated countries and territories.
The Level the Playing Field (LTPF) provisions strengthen remedies under U.S. trade for companies injured by dumping and other unfair and unlawful trade practices.
Other provisions included in the legislation signed by Obama extend aid to Africa for regional integration and supply chain development and duty-free benefits on apparel exports from Haiti.