Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Issues, Options, and Prospects for Renewal [January 7, 2008]   [open pdf - 269KB]

"On July 1, 2007, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA -- formerly known as fast track), expired. TPA is the authority Congress grants to the President to enter into certain reciprocal trade agreements (FTAs), and to have their implementing bills considered under expedited legislative procedures, provided he observes certain statutory obligations in negotiating them. TPA allows Congress to exercise its constitutional authority over trade, while giving the President added leverage to exercise his authority to negotiate trade agreements by effectively assuring U.S. trade partners that final agreements are given swift and unamended consideration. […] Bilateral agreements with Panama, Peru, Colombia, and South Korea were signed in time to be considered under the 2002 TPA. The House and Senate passed implementing legislation for the Peru FTA, which President Bush signed into law on December 14, 2007. No action has been take on the others. The protracted World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round of multilateral negotiations are still incomplete and may yet result in the remaining key trade agreement that could compel Congress to consider extending or renewing TPA. Some observers also suggest that TPA is important to support future bilateral FTA negotiations, particularly given that many countries appear ready to continue pursuing FTAs irrespective of U.S. trade policy. Key Members of the House and Senate, however, have signaled that TPA renewal is not at the top of the legislative agenda and will require considerable deliberation before it can be passed. Congress has many options in dealing with TPA: take no action; extend temporarily; revise and renew; grant permanent authority; or devise some hybrid solution. How this issue plays out depends on a host of political and economic variables. This report will be updated as events warrant."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33743
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