U.S. President George W. Bush formally asked Congress this week to continue so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), legislation that allows the White House to send trade agreements between the U.S. and other nations to Capitol Hill to be accepted or rejected but not amended. The measure, unless extended, will expire at midyear.
The Bush Administration is asking Congress to extend TPA until July 1, 2007. Rejection by either the House of Representatives or the Senate would result in the loss of TPA on July 1, 2005, and make the negotiation of trade pacts more difficult. Other nations historically have been reluctant to negotiate with the United States when the possibility has existed that Congress would modify otherwise-final agreements.
Failure to renew TPA would directly affect negotiations for the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas; for the creation of several other free-trade pacts in Latin America, Asia, and Africa; and for the completion of the Doha Round of international trade talks under the auspices of the World Trade Organization.