"The Bush Administration has made bilateral and regional free-trade agreements (FTAs) more important elements of U.S. trade policy, a strategy known as 'competitive liberalization.' This strategy, it argues, will push forward trade liberalization simultaneously on bilateral, regional and multilateral fronts. It is meant to spur trade negotiations by liberalizing trade with countries willing to join FTAs, and to pressure other countries to negotiate multilaterally. Critics contend, however, that the accent on regional and bilateral negotiations undermines the multilateral forum and increases the risk of trade diversion away from competitive countries not in the trade bloc. [...] Potential agreements resulting from current trade negotiations may be considered by Congress under trade promotion authority (fast-track authority) legislation enacted in 2002. That legislation covers agreements signed before June 30, 2007. Under the legislation, if the President meets notification requirements and other conditions, Congress will consider a bill to implement a trade agreement under an expedited procedure (no amendment, deadlines for votes). The notification requirements include minimum 90-day notices before starting negotiations and before signing a trade agreement."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB10123