News / USA

    US Trade Deals Face Uncertain Future in Congress

    Jim Randle
    Several major trade deals between Washington and its Asian and European partners face an uncertain future on Capitol Hill. While U.S. officials are busy working out agreements with other nations, Congress is haggling over what should be in those pacts and how they should be approved.  

    Trade supporters hope to get Congress to agree on a set of goals for trade negotiations, and then step aside and let diplomats try to get a deal with other nations that reaches those goals.  

    Under the special “Trade Promotion Authority” known as the "fast track" process for complex deals, Congress can vote yes or no but may not insert amendments into a final treaty.  

    TPA support

    That is just fine with Representative Charles Boustany, who supports trade deals.

    “The last thing we want are 435 members of the House and 100 senators trying to negotiate separately a trade deal,” he said.

    Key committee leaders in the House and Senate are said to have agreed on an outline of a Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA. They will introduce a bipartisan bill in both houses early in the new year, but the measure faces significant opposition.  

    Washington is haggling with other countries over several trade deals, including the Trans Pacific Partnership with 11 Pacific nations. A second proposed deal is with the European Union, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership .  

    Senator Jeff Flake says trade deals could bring growth and jobs to the United States.

    “Without the renewal of Trade Promotion Authority, it is difficult to foresee a credible scenario where we will be part of these trade agreements when they are concluded,” he said.

    Supporters say cutting barriers to trade increases the flow of goods and services across borders, raises demand and creates jobs.

    Previous deals cut tariffs on trade, but the new generation of agreements is intended to go further, resolving differences in regulations that make it harder to make or grow a product in one nation and sell it in another.

    For example, U.S. poultry producers complain that changing European regulations have kept billions of dollars worth of their products out of European markets for 17 years. They hope a new deal will establish a uniform set of rules so they can sell more.

    Critics speak out

    Critics of these trade negotiations include some U.S. labor, environmental and consumer organizations. Lori Wallach speaks for the advocacy group Public Citizen and says those differing rules protect the health and safety of consumers, the financial system, people who use prescription drugs, and others.

    She says changing health and safety rules is a job for open debate in Congress, not secretive negotiations on trade deals.

    “[It is] a very undemocratic way of making decisions that will affect all of our lives,” said Wallach.

    Wallach says American negotiators also should do more to stop U.S. trading partners from manipulating the value of their currencies to give their goods an unfair price advantage on world markets.

    And she says the United States worked out trade deals through much of its history without “fast track,” and can make future deals in the same way - if they stand up to public scrutiny.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora