Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements: Issues for Congress [May 17, 2018]   [open pdf - 2MB]

"Congress plays a central role in the negotiation, approval and implementation of U.S. trade agreements, reflecting its constitutional authority over foreign commerce. Congress shapes the Administration's trade agreement negotiations through enacting statutory U.S. trade negotiating objectives, ongoing consultations and oversight, and ratification of concluded agreements through implementing legislation. It also oversees trade agreement implementation and the enforcement of commitments. U.S. trade agreements can affect many facets of U.S. economic activity, including the cost and availability of goods and services in the United States, the competitiveness of U.S. firms both domestically and abroad, employment opportunities for U.S. workers, as well as broader U.S. strategic interests. The Trump Administration has altered U.S. trade agreement policy by withdrawing from the then-pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), starting renegotiations or modification of two existing free trade agreements (FTAs), and stating a preference for bilateral FTAs. It also has put forth a more skeptical approach toward multilateral trade agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and has viewed bilateral trade imbalances as a measure of trade agreement success or failure. As Congress works with the Trump Administration in establishing and implementing U.S. trade policy, it may have interest in more closely examining the implications of the type and content of U.S. trade agreements and those pursued by major U.S. trading partners that exclude the United States."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R45198
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