USCA: Not so fast on ‘fast track’ bill | TSLN.com

USCA: Not so fast on ‘fast track’ bill

The United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) says a bill that would authorize Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – commonly called "fast-track" – was introduced in Congress last month. USCA leadership says the granting of fast-track would likely pave the way for faster completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Fast-track negotiating authority for trade agreements gives authority to the President of the United States to negotiate international agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster. Fast track negotiating authority is granted to the President by Congress. Congress hasn't authorized fast-track since 2007.

USCA International Trade Committee Chairman, Leo McDonnell, Columbus, MT released the following statement on the matter:

"Expanded trade must meet U.S. agricultural needs for fair access to global markets and provide for corrections of distortions that deny access for U.S. goods. Fast-track legislation has been used for the last 40 years as a way to speed trade legislation through Congress after the Administration has negotiated pursuant to some general objectives without modifications or amendments being allowed. Congress can only approve or reject the total package and it is my understanding that Congress has always approved the package."

"Fast-track procedures result in the private sector having no ability to seek modifications when the full content of the trade package is revealed, essentially preventing Congress from exercising its Constitutional role in international trade. Because there is no public transparency while negotiations are going on, most Americans don't have the information they need and can't work with the Administration or Congress while negotiations are underway. Thus, USCA has serious concerns with the process and whether Congressional objectives are the basis for negotiations."

"Moreover, data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, using the Balance of Payments Basis, shows that in the 40 years since fast-track was introduced, our nation has gone from running either trade surpluses in goods or being roughly break-even and we have amassed a trade deficit that is now some $11.5 trillion through the end of 2013 with the bulk of that deficit accumulated in the last 20 years. This trend is not sustainable."

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"Our understanding of the bill introduced is that it is largely a repeat of the 2002 trade promotion authority legislation with a few additional provisions. Moving forward, safeguards that prevent trade imbalances and distortions need to be implemented. Opportunities were missed to do this within previous free trade agreements. In current and future trade dialogue, the U.S. cattle industry will be better served by agreements in which agriculture is not used as a bargaining chip within negotiations.

–USCA