Senate approves TPA bill; now on to Obama

Senate approves TPA bill; now on to Obama

With today’s passage by the Senate of legislation granting the president authority to enter and finalize free-trade agreements, the National Pork Producers Council called on U.S. trade negotiators to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asia-Pacific regional trade deal.

Senate lawmakers voted 60-38 to approve Trade Promotion Authority, which defines objectives and priorities for trade agreements the United States negotiates and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote – without amendments – yes or no on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007.

The House approved TPA last Thursday by a 218-208 vote.

“We applaud Congress for approving TPA, which is imperative for finalizing free-trade agreements that boost U.S. exports and create U.S. jobs,” said NPPC President Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “Now we need U.S. trade negotiators to get the best deal possible from the other TPP countries and to finalize one of the most significant regional trade agreements ever.”

Job creation

The TPP talks among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries would generate 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to pork exports, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes. The U.S. pork industry would see exponential growth in exports to the TPP countries.

“U.S. trade negotiators now have the leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations,” Prestage said. “The U.S. pork industry needs TPP to continue growing our exports.”

Since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – U.S. pork exports have increased 1,550% in value and 1,268% in volume. The United States shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to foreign destinations in 2014. The U.S. pork industry ships more pork to the 20 nations with which the United States has free-trade agreements than to the rest of the world combined.

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