The National Pork Producers Council will score two votes on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in the U.S. House as “key votes.” NPPC will note lawmakers’ votes on the procedural rule to set parameters on debate and consideration of TPA legislation and on final passage of TPA.
Periodically, NPPC scores members of Congress on their votes on issues and legislation that are of paramount importance to the livelihoods of America’s pork producers. The scores then are made public so voters have the information when determining the candidate of their choice in the next election.
The House last Friday voted 219-211 to approve TPA as part of a package of trade measures, but it defeated a Trade Adjustment Assistance bill, thus preventing TPA from moving forward. This time, TPA will be considered as a stand-alone bill.
TPA defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements 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 yes or no – without amendments – 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 key reason TPA is needed, said NPPC President Ron Prestage, is for concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the TPP deal would be the most significant commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers, generating more than 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to pork exports.
“U.S. trade negotiators will have the final leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations when Congress passes TPA,” said Prestage. “It will allow nations to cut to their bottom line negotiating position in TPP.”
Since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – pork exports have increased 1,550 percent in value and 1,268 percent in volume. The United States shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to international destinations in 2014. The U.S. pork industry exports more pork to the 20 countries with which the United States has free trade agreements than to the rest of the nations combined.
Prestage said that “each and every one of the free trade agreements that got us that tremendous growth in exports were made possible by the enactment of Trade Promotion Authority bills. That is why NPPC and virtually every other agricultural organization in the United States are in favor of Congress expeditiously moving TPA legislation.”
Failure to pass TPA, noted Prestage, would send a signal to the world that the United States is turning its back on the Asia-Pacific region – the fastest growing area in the world – and allowing other countries to write the rules for international trade.
“The U.S. pork industry, U.S. agriculture, indeed the entire U.S. economy needs TPA, and we need it soon,” said Prestage. “And if House lawmakers vote against the TPA rule and/or TPA, we’ll hold them accountable.”