By a vote of 60 to 38 the United States Senate passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) yesterday. This legislation, which will allow the President to send a completed trade agreement to Congress for an up-or-down vote and no amendments, will now be sent to White House where the President is expected to sign this into law today. Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, every president has had authority from Congress to negotiate trade agreements that open up new market opportunities for the U.S. Congress last enacted TPA legislation in 2002, and it lapsed in 2007.
“United Fresh applauds the Senate for renewing Trade Promotion Authorization (TPA). Trade deals that break down market access barriers and create new economic opportunities benefit the industry at home and abroad, expanding consumption of America’s abundant supply of fruits and vegetables in rapidly developing regions of the world. We look forward to the President signing this legislation and working with his Administration to finalize the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh.
Guenther testified before the U. S. House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee in March supporting TPA and encouraging Congress to pass this much needed tool for our trade negotiators. In addition, Guenther told Congress that export and import levels need to be put back on an even keel and urged Congress to ensure that future trade deals create new ways to break down these artificial barriers using sound science and the creation of a dispute settlement process that resolves non-tariff trade issues in a timely manner.
Trade agreements are critical to the livelihoods of U.S. fruit and vegetable producers. For example, in 2013, trade agreements resulted in $4.3 million of fresh peach and nectarine exports and $40 million of table grape exports to Australia, alone. Overall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts fresh fruit and vegetable exports for Fiscal Year 2015 with a value of nearly $8 billion. Exports to key markets such as Canada, Europe and Japan are expected to continue expanding. However, while fruit and vegetable exports have doubled since the mid-1990s, fruit and vegetable imports in that same time period have nearly tripled. “TPA, as well as other potential trade partnerships, will open markets, create economic opportunities at home and abroad and promote trade balance for the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry,” Guenther stated.
With TPA being sent to the President, the Administration can now focus on finalizing trade negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which the U.S. is looking to enter with 11 other Asia-Pacific countries. It would be the largest trade deal in history, opening markets and expanding access to U.S. agriculture exports to more than 800 million people.