Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) Renewal: Core Labor Standards Issues [August 29, 2007]   [open pdf - 154KB]

"Trade promotion authority (TPA), formerly known as 'fast-track' authority, is scheduled to expire July 1, 2007. With it will expire the authority: (a) that Congress grants the President to enter into certain trade agreements, and (b) for Congress to consider the agreements' implementing legislation under expedited procedures. Currently, the Administration is negotiating a number of trade agreements that may not be completed before the current TPA is set to expire. If these activities are to continue, TPA/fast-track renewal may be a central issue in the 110th Congress. Within the debate, a major issue is expected to be whether to include as a principal negotiating objective in trade agreements, 'enforceable core labor standards.' Two TPA/fast-track authorities have incorporated labor provisions. The first, the 'Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988' (OTCA), which expired in 1994, included the broad, general objective: 'to promote worker rights.' The 'North American Free Trade Agreement', with its labor side agreement, was negotiated under OTCA. The second and current TPA authority with labor provisions, the 'Trade Act of 2002', includes protections for labor, modified by protections for country governments, businesses and investors. Seven free trade agreements (FTAs) -- with Chile, Singapore, Australia, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, and the Dominican Republic and Central America -- were negotiated under this authority. All have only one enforceable labor requirement: that each country not fail to enforce its own labor laws in a manner affecting trade between the parties. […] Finally, it looks at possible outcomes and implications of the various legislative options, and summarizes key activity on the TPA renewal issue. This report will be updated as events warrant."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33864
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