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National DEC 2016 - Annual Forum and International Trade Symposium

Save the Dates! September 22 - 23rd, 2016

Learn more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Its Importance to You and How You Can Be Engaged.

 

2016 National DEC Fourth Annual International Trade Symposium

September 22, 2016 - Thursday,  Washington, DC

Morning Session: International Trade Symposium. Organized in cooperation with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to be held at the Vietnam House in D.C. Vietnam is a key player in TPP Negotiations.

Afternoon Session: Meetings on Capitol Hill with our respective elected officials and/or staff to discuss TPP.

Evening: Reception on Capitol Hill.

To register, go to Fourth Annual International Trade Symposium registration

 

 

2016 National DEC Forum

September 23, 2016 - Friday, Washington, DC

Organized in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Commerce, to be held at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center building. Come learn about the latest trends impacting exports and your DEC.

To register, go to 2016 National DEC Forum registration.

Join us at these important events. Details and an agenda will be available as we move closer to the event.

2016 ​National ​DEC ​Legislative ​Summit

National DEC Legislative Summit

Join Us at the ​2016 ​National ​DEC ​Legislative ​Summit ​which will ​be ​held ​in ​Washington, ​D.C. ​on ​April ​19, ​2016!

Each year National District Export Council organizes Legislative Summit where exporting community and DEC members come together to share the recent developments and work on the pressing issues on U.S. foreign trade and exporting. This year's DEC Legislative Summit ​will ​focus ​on ​the ​Trans-Pacific ​Partnership ​(TPP) Agreement. ​The ​Summit ​will ​be ​at ​the ​U.S. ​Chamber ​of ​Commerce ​in ​the ​morning ​with ​the ​afternoon ​being ​devoted ​to ​Capitol ​Hill ​visits. ​

All ​DEC ​members ​are ​invited ​to attend this free event. ​The ​U.S. ​Chamber ​has ​offered ​their ​assistance ​in ​setting ​up ​appointments ​for ​all ​DEC ​members ​who ​will ​be ​attending. ​The ​agenda ​will ​be ​forthcoming.

More information on the 2016 NDEC Legislative Summit here

Register for the Summit here

Third Annual International Trade Symposium

The National District Export Council, in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hosted its Third Annual International Trade Symposium on November 20, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The Symposium covered current trade issues related to the Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
 
Pictured above discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership are Roy Paulson, National DEC Chair Emeritus and President, Paulson Manufacturing Corporation; Jim Fatheree, Executive Director, Japan and Korea, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Drew Quinn, Deputy Lead Negotiator for the TPP, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; Maureen Halstead, Georgia DEC Chair and Director, Global Product Management, KaMin, LLC; and Susanne Stirling, National DEC Member and Vice President, International Affairs, California Chamber of Commerce.

2015 DEC of the Year Award

Congratulations to the Louisiana DEC for winning the 2015 DEC of the Year Award! The award was presented by the U.S. Department of Commerce at the 2015 National DEC Forum.
 
Pictured above are Holly Vineyard, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets, U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration; Alta Baker, Louisiana DEC Chair; and Brittany Banta, International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service.

How to Think about the TPP

By: Simon Lester, CATO Institute
November 9. 2015
 
The full text of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement was released last Thursday.  At over 6,000 pages (by most estimates – I haven’t counted them myself!), it’s quite a challenge to digest.  It’s easy to pick out obscure technical issues and discuss them with trade experts; it’s harder to talk about the big picture significance for a mass audience. 
 
Economist Jeffrey Sachs tried to do this in an op-ed in the Boston Globe, and I think he offered a good starting point:
 
The agreement, with its 30 chapters, is really four complex deals in one. The first is a free-trade deal among the signatories. That part could be signed today. Tariff rates would come down to zero; quotas would drop; trade would expand; and protectionism would be held at bay. The second is a set of regulatory standards for trade. Most of these are useful, requiring that regulations that limit trade should be based on evidence, not on political whims or hidden protectionism. The third is a set of regulations governing investor rights, intellectual property, and regulations in key service sectors, including financial services, telecommunications, e-commerce, and pharmaceuticals. These chapters are a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Their common denominator is that they enshrine the power of corporate capital above all other parts of society, including labor and even governments. The fourth is a set of standards on labor and environment that purport to advance the cause of social fairness and environmental sustainability. But the agreements are thin, unenforceable, and generally unimaginative. For example, climate change is not even mentioned, much less addressed boldly and creatively.
 
I would say he gets this about half right.  Some clarifications are in order.
 
He’s right about the free trade part. We should do the tariff/quota reduction part today (or better yet, years ago!).
 
He’s also right about his third category of regulations, on investor rights, intellectual property, and services.  As with most regulations, some are good, some are useless, and some are downright harmful.  The TPP regulations are no different.
 
As for the second category, however, when you talk about international rules that require evidence-based regulation, or prohibit hidden protectionism, that’s already taken care of at the WTO.  The WTO has a great track record of handling these cases.  It’s not clear how the TPP would add much here.
 
Finally, he wants stronger labor and environmental rules in the TPP, but it’s not clear to me why those subjects are suited for trade agreements.  Whatever you think about climate change, for example, if you are going to address that in a treaty, it seems appropriate to do so in a climate change treaty, not a trade treaty.  Regardless, these regulations are really just part of the general category of regulations, along with investor rights, intellectual property, and services.
 
Summing this up, and narrowing his four categories to two, the TPP has two major aspects to think about: the trade liberalizing part, which is good; and the regulatory part, which is pretty mixed.  The best way to evaluate the TPP over the next year – which many people are saying is how long we have until a Congressional vote – is to figure out how much liberalization is in there, and just how good/bad/ugly the regulatory aspects are, and weigh and balance the two.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Is about More than Lower Tariffs

By: Simon Lester, CATO Institute
Date: Sunday, October 18, 2015
  
On October 5, 2015, after an intense few days of negotiations, government officials from the United States and 11 other Pacific region countries announced the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal involving countries making up almost 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Specific details of the agreement are still lacking, but by any measure this deal will be one of the largest in history. However, the work is not done yet.
 
The next step will be an intense political debate here in the U.S. as well as the other TPP countries. In preparation, it is useful to understand what’s in the TPP to sort out the wide-ranging impact it will have. Trade agreements are not just about lower tariffs — they are broad exercises in global governance.
 
The core feature of trade liberalization is still present, of course. In this regard, the key questions for evaluating the deal are, how much liberalization will occur through the TPP, and how quickly?
 
On various sensitive products, the early reports are underwhelming. We have heard that U.S. tariffs on cars and trucks will be reduced slowly (30 years for trucks); and U.S. restrictions on sugar will fall only slightly. Japan will liberalize agricultural markets only a little, and Canada will do the same on dairy imports. For those who favor trade liberalization, the specific details of “market access” provided for these and other products will matter a lot when assessing the merits of the deal.
 
Also important is liberalization of trade in services, a rapidly expanding part of the global economy. The provision of many services has moved online, and international trade is now possible in areas not previously envisioned, such as education and medicine. Ideally, the TPP will liberalize trade in these and other service sectors.
 
The upcoming public debate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership is sure to be contentious.
 
Beyond these traditional trade issues, there is an expanding governance aspect of today’s trade agreements. The Obama administration has touted the TPP as “the most progressive” trade agreement in history. It will apparently push labor protections further than ever before, and also include new environmental protections.
 
Another element that is designed to appeal to liberals is a “carve out” of certain tobacco regulations from rules that apply to foreign investment. For anti-tobacco groups, convincing the Obama administration to take this unprecedented step was a big victory.
 
These governance items may be short-term victories for groups on the left, but they could cause problems for congressional consideration of the TPP. Republicans in Congress are generally wary of excessive labor and environmental regulation, and members of Congress from tobacco producing states (including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell) are strongly opposed to singling out tobacco for unfavorable treatment. It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration’s attempts to appeal to progressives will hurt the agreement’s chances to gain support from conservatives.
 
At the same time, the Obama administration has pushed for extensive intellectual property protection as part of the TPP. This appeals to business groups, but is extremely aggravating to many on the left. In the end, the compromise that was achieved has left some leading Republicans in Congress upset.
 
Trying to keep all of the different interest groups happy, by constructing a balanced package that gives everyone something they want, is a difficult endeavor. Everything you give to one group has the potential to irritate another group. The growing complexity of trade agreements has made the trade debate, and generating support for trade agreements, much more complex and difficult.
 
Inevitably, the TPP’s prospects for congressional passage will now be caught up with presidential politics. “Populist” candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump will weigh in with criticisms. And as much as she might want to avoid it, Hillary Clinton will have to take a position as well. All of this may make congressional consideration difficult. It is hard to see a window of time in which Congress can sign off on the deal in this political climate.
 
The upcoming public debate on the TPP is sure to be contentious. With any luck, it will also be enlightening. There have been trade deals signed in recent years, but they have often been small, involving just one country or countries making up a very limited part of the world economy.
 
The TPP is not radically different from these recent agreements, but its scope will draw out critics to a greater degree than previously seen. This provides an opportunity to have a good debate on just what trade agreements should be doing.
 
Clearly, there should be liberalization in there, or else the whole exercise is pointless. But have we liberalized enough in the TPP? As noted, the extent of liberalization for some sensitive products is unclear at this point, and some traditional trade liberalization issues, such as farm subsidies, have been left out of the agreement entirely.
 
And on the governance issues, this is a chance to think deeply about the role of international law in shaping domestic policy-making, and whether trade agreements have expanded too much into this area.
 
It is too early to make predictions about the TPP’s prospects in Congress, and no doubt this process will be a learning experience for everyone involved.
 
Next up after the TPP is a similar agreement being worked out with the Europeans, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TPP and TTIP are jointly referred to as the new “mega-regional” trade agreements.
 
If they do come into force, they will reshape the trading system in ways that will last for decades. For that reason, once the TPP texts are released, members of Congress need to scrutinize them carefully and understand their full impact.
 
This article appeared in the San Francisco Daily Journal.

Top Nine Myths About Trade Promotion Authority And The Trans-Pacific Partnership

By: Scott Lincicome, CATO Institute
Source: thefederalist.com/2015/06/09/top-nine-myths-about-trade-promotion-authority-and-the-trans-pacific-partnership/
The current debate over Trade Promotion Authority proves, once again, that the classic description of the anti-globalization movement—as “largely the well-intentioned but ill-informed being led around by the ill-intentioned and well informed”—still holds true. Despite the tireless efforts of trade policy experts to explain why TPA and the U.S. trade agreements it’s intended to facilitate are, while imperfect, not a secret corporatist plot to usurp the U.S. Constitution and install global government, myths and half-truths continue to infect traditional and social media outlets.

Because these myths—originating with the same old anti-trade bedfellows that have been with us for decades—have duped a lot of good folks who are otherwise predisposed to support liberty and free markets (including some in Congress), and because the House of Representatives is poised to vote on TPA in the coming days, here is one last debunking of the top nine myths about TPA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and U.S. free-trade agreements (FTAs) more broadly.
To save some time, you can skip to your favorite myth by clicking on the links below.

Myth 1: TPA and U.S. FTAs are unconstitutional and undemocratic!

Totally false. Cato’s Bill Watson and I explained this at length in The Federalist last year, but here’s former Attorney General Ed Meese to reinforce our conclusions:

The TPA legislation… is clearly constitutional because Congress retains its authority to approve or reject all future trade agreements. It might be unconstitutional if Congress tried to delegate its authority to approve the final deal–but that is not at issue. Congress may always kill any future international agreement by withholding its final approval. The only difference under TPA is that Congress consents not to kill the agreement by amendment (i.e., the ‘death by a thousand cuts’). The Constitution grants each house of Congress the authority to establish its own rules of procedure, and it makes perfect sense for Congress to limit itself to straight up-or-down votes on certain resolutions, such as base closures and its own adjournment motions.

Constitutional law professor John O. McGinnis also recently reviewed TPA and concluded that TPA “simply permits Congress under its ordinary procedures to commit to a future majority vote of Congress to vote up or down on an agreement that the President has negotiated. Representative democracy is thus served by the later vote on an agreement whose text is known.” And then there’s the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1890 case of Field v. Clark approving the constitutionality of an analogous law—the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890, which granted the president even more authority than TPA. It was no big deal.
Finally, it’s important to reiterate that, contrary to some claimsFTAs are not treaties (which are typically “self-executing,” require two-thirds approval by the Senate, and have the force of law upon ratification). They are “congressional-executive agreements” that, even after being signed by the president, have absolutely no legal force until they are converted into implementing legislation (which would amend current law), passed by Congress, and signed into law by the president. Such agreements have for decades been used by the United States for many different issues, including trade liberalization, and U.S. courts have repeatedly rejected constitutional challenges thereto. In short, a constitutional argument against TPA requires you to reject over a century of precedent, the repeated rulings of U.S. courts, and the opinions of even the strictest of constitutional scholars.

Myth 2: TPA grants the president new and unlimited powers!

Totally false. As already noted above (and reiterated here by Cato’s Dan Ikenson andhere by the Congressional Research Service), Congress under TPA retains total control over the international trade authority granted to it by Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Any trade agreement negotiated by the president (which he has constitutional authority to do under Article II) still must be approved by Congress. 
As noted by the CRS, “TPA reflects decades of debate, cooperation, and compromise between Congress and the executive branch in finding a pragmatic accommodation to the exercise of each branch’s respective authorities over trade policy.” It represents a “gentleman’s agreement” between the legislative branch and the executive branch—with the former promising the latter “fast track” rules for the requisite congressional approval of an FTA, if, and only if, the latter (i) agrees to follow a detailed set of congressional “negotiating objectives” for the agreement’s content; and (ii) engages in a series of consultations with Congress on that content. As discussed more fully below, each branch of government retains its constitutional authority to abandon this gentleman’s agreement, but doing so will essentially kill any hope of signing and implementing new FTAs. So, with limited exceptions, Congress and the executive toe the line.
Because neither branch gets expansive new powers or short-changed, Congress has granted every U.S. president since FDR some form of trade negotiating authority (source):

Lincicome1

Pretty boring when you think about it, huh?

Myth 3: TPA sets legally binding congressional rules for USTR and U.S. trade negotiations!

Mostly false. As already noted, TPA sets congressional negotiating objectives on a range of issues (some more palatable than others), but, contrary to the statements of TPA antagonists and even some supporters, these objectives are not legally binding on the executive branch. Instead, the president retains his authority to negotiate with foreign governments, and, as Meese notes, that’s a good thing: “under well-established constitutional rulings, it would raise serious constitutional concerns for Congress to try to mandate the President’s negotiating positions.”
The president and his U.S. trade representative thus technically have discretion to ignore these objectives, but doing so would obviously jeopardize any final congressional vote. As the CRS explains:

To take the fullest advantage of these benefits, Congress, drawing on its constitutional authority and historical precedent, defined the objectives that the President is to pursue in trade negotiations. Although the executive branch has some discretion over implementing these goals, they are definitive statements of U.S. trade policy that the Administration is expected to honor, if it expects trade agreement implementing legislation to be considered under expedited rules [i.e., ‘fast track’].

The negotiating objectives constitute one part of the gentleman’s agreement between Congress and the president: “follow our wishes when you negotiate, and we’ll limit our meddling when a final deal is struck.” If the president doesn’t follow them, then the deal is off.
Which brings us to…

Myth 4: Once TPA is approved, Congress will be powerless to stop TPP or other FTAs!

Totally false. Not only does the latest version of TPA include new language expressly stating that the House or Senate can dismantle the “fast-track” rules for various “disapproval” reasons, but—even more importantly—Congress has always retained this power because it has plenary authority over its rules of procedure, including “fast track.” 
The new TPA, like previous versions before it, acknowledges this fact in Sec. 106(c), which states that the fast-track rules are enacted as “as an exercise of the rulemaking power of the House of Representatives and the Senate,” but “with the full recognition of the constitutional right of either House to change the rules (so far as relating to the procedures of that House) at any time, in the same manner, and to the same extent as any other rule of that House.” The CRS summary of TPA reiterates this fact: “Congress reserves its constitutional right to withdraw or override the expedited procedures for trade implementing bills, which can take effect with a vote by either House of Congress.” 
Such power is not merely theoretical. It is precisely what then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi did to the Colombia FTA in 2008 after President Bush submitted its implementing legislation. Her move effectively dismantled the “fast track” procedures and thus delayed congressional consideration of the agreement indefinitely.
In short, Congress retains total control over the FTA implementation process under TPA and can only be bound by the “fast track” rules if it wants to be bound.
Sensing a theme here yet?

Myth 5: TPP is being negotiated via a dangerous and unprecedented level of secrecy!

Totally false. Probably the most-repeated myth right now isn’t even related to TPA but instead to the TPP, which is still being negotiated. According to the anti-TPA script, the TPP is so secret that nobody knows what’s in it, and—much like Obamacare legislation—nobody, not even Congress, will know what’s in it until the agreement is passed into law. Once again, however, nothing could be further from the truth:

  • First, Obama’s USTR and Congress have been consulting on the TPP since December 14, 2009, when then-USTR Kirk notified Congress that President Obama intended to enter into TPP negotiations. USTR then held initial consultations with Congress in 2010 and, according to a January 2015 fact-sheet, has since held almost 1,700 congressional briefings on TPP alone. USTR also previewed various TPP proposals with key congressional committees before taking them to our trading partners. (Odd that the TPP talks have been going on for six years, but the vast majority of these “secrecy” complaints have only emerged in the last few months, huh?)
  • Second, USTR has provided “access to the full negotiating texts for any Member of Congress, including for Members to view at their convenience in the Capitol, accompanied by staff members with appropriate security clearance.” This access began in 2012, and several House members and senators—both supportive of TPA (like Mike Lee) and opposed (like Sens. Jeff Sessions and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Rep. Rosa DeLauro)—have reviewed the draft negotiating texts. Moreover, the level of security surrounding these TPP texts isn’t part of some scary Obama administration plot; it’s set by Congress (which, as you’ll recall, is controlled by Republicans these days). A U.S. government official confirmed to me that “the Senate and House security offices determine the procedures for viewing classified material in the Capitol reading room where the TPP text is kept for Members—not the administration… some people claim that it’s more difficult to view military or intelligence information, but it’s all subject to the same rules that are set and enforced by Capitol security.”
  • Third, USTR has engaged the public on the TPP via published reports and “stakeholder meetings” with groups like labor unions, consumer groups, and, of course, corporations and trade associations. Some of these stakeholders have evenreviewed the negotiating texts and US proposals. Admittedly, the official texts aren’t available to the general public, but this is common practice for all FTAs (as a quick Google search reveals) and for good reason: just like other high-value negotiations among private parties or governments, revealing draft proposals before a deal is struck emboldens the opposition, undermines the parties’ negotiating positions, and exposes negotiators to public scrutiny over provisions that might not even be in a final deal. Publishing draft FTA texts would make completing a deal difficult, if not impossible, and it’s thus no coincidence the most vocal advocates for “full transparency” in free trade negotiations are actually those most opposed to free trade.It’s also important to understand just how unoriginal this “secrecy” canard is:

Yes, protectionists have been using the same “secrecy” lines for over 20 years. In fact, if you replaced “NAFTA” with “TPP” in those old Ross Perot commercials, they’d be almost indistinguishable from the ones on our TVs today.

  • Finally, unlike the oft-analogized Obamacare legislation, the actual text of any final TPP deal will be required by law to be publicly available (online) for months—yes, months—before Congress votes on it. As you can see from the table below (source), under TPA the president must make the entire text of any trade agreement, including TPP, available to the public for 60 days before he can even sign it.Once it’s signed, Congress will have weeks, maybe months, to scour the deal, hold “mock markups” in various committees, and suggest changes to the agreement before the president sends Congress legislation implementing the FTA for a final vote. Also, within 105 days of the FTA’s signing, the U.S. International Trade Commission must issue a report on the deal’s economic impact—again prior those bills being submitted to Congress. And once the bills finally are submitted, Congress will then have up to 90 legislative days (which is like five months in normal human days) to review the bills and hold final votes.

Bottom line: when or if TPA is passed, the general public will have months—and if the presidential elections interfere, maybe years—to review the TPP before Congress acts on it. Think that’s crazy? Well, it’s precisely what happened to U.S. FTAs with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, which were signed by President Bush but sat around (online) for years before they were submitted to, and passed by, Congress in 2011.

Lincicome2

Myth 6: FTAs, completed via TPA, undermine U.S. sovereignty!

Totally false, as Watson and I explained last year:

FTAs embody unenforceable promises governments make to each other. Domestic governments—here, Congress—retain the sole authority to ignore those promises and violate international commitments, and they (unfortunately) do so frequently. Foreign governments cannot force their trading partners to comply with the terms of an FTA—the only extra-national consequence of a violation is that other parties to the agreement may abrogate their commitments in a commensurate amount (e.g., by raising tariffs on imports from the United States from levels that were lowered in the FTA). Moreover, every U.S. trade agreement permits the parties to act outside the agreed disciplines in the name of, among other things, national security, public health and safety, or environmental protection. Thus, the idea that TPA and FTAs violate U.S. sovereignty or regulatory autonomy is patently false.

These principles hold true for the TPP, including its dispute settlement and controversial “investor-state” provisions. Despite what Warren (and some media outlets) would like you to believe, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—that can force the United States to comply with an adverse dispute settlement ruling issued under the TPP or any other U.S. trade agreement. Period.
But, hey, if you don’t believe me, here’s Attorney General Meese again:

Future trade deals would not be unconstitutional, nor would they undermine U.S. sovereignty, if they contained an agreement to submit some disputes to an international tribunal for an initial determination. The United States will always have the ultimate say over what its domestic laws provide. No future agreement could grant an international organization the power to change U.S. laws.

A ruling by an international tribunal that calls a U.S. law into question would have no domestic effect unless Congress changes the law to comply with the ruling. If Congress rejects a ruling or fails to act, other countries might impose a trade sanction or tariff, but they are more likely to impose high tariffs now without any agreement. The fact remains that no international body or foreign government may change any American law. Moreover, Congress may override an entire agreement at any time by a simple statute. Nations also may withdraw from international agreements by executive action alone. That is one reason why such agreements do not interfere with the underlying sovereignty of each nation to chart its own course in the world. In short, the U.S. Constitution and any laws and treaties we enact in accordance thereto are the only supreme law of our land.

If that’s not clear enough for you, then I don’t know what is.

Myth 7: TPP is a secret backdoor for a parade of horribles (and TPA lets that happen)!

Totally false. Various politicians and pundits have sought to arouse suspicions by claiming, among other things, that TPA will permit President Obama to bypass Congress and use the TPP as a backdoor to, among other things, lawlessly expand immigration, curtail gun rights, or restrict Internet freedom. At this point, however, I hope you can see just how ridiculous these claims are. Regardless of the issue, the fact will always remain that nothing can be implemented via the TPP unless Congress agrees to implement it via a formal vote.
This would include things like new work visas (something that U.S. FTAs haven’t actually done for years now) or Internet regulations or gun rules or minimum wages or whatever: it all has to become law before it has any legal force, and the only people making law are Congress (and, again, according to their own procedural rules). So, if in the TPP the president committed the United States to toss every AR-15 into the Atlantic Ocean, those guns aren’t going anywhere unless Congress formally agrees, subject to all of the constitutional, procedural, and transparency rules already discussed.
And, really, do you think this Congress is going to do anything of the sort? Really? (For more specific debunking of these crazy ideas, go hereherehere and here.) 
We still don’t know precisely what’s in the TPP, and final judgment—by Congress and the public—should therefore be withheld until we do. But the idea that TPP, empowered by TPA, will grant President Obama any new legal authority to ignore or change U.S. immigration or gun or whatever laws without Congress is simply ludicrous.

Myth 8: FTAs (and free trade generally) benefit large corporations at the expense of working people!

Mostly false. There is little doubt that FTAs benefit some U.S. corporations and workers, while harming others—that’s kinda free-market competition’s thing.
In general, however, the corporate winners (who tend to be in growing, innovative industries) from U.S. FTAs outnumber the losers (who tend to be in archaic, uncompetitive ones). And every legitimate economic analysis of the TPP confirms this general rule. FTAs also contain rules and exceptions for well-connected stakeholders. As I’ve repeatedly discussed, this is a big reason why FTAs are “third best” option for U.S. trade policy.}
Nevertheless, there is also little doubt that (i) FTAs are pretty much the only trade liberalization game in town these days; (ii) while unpalatable, the cronyist exceptions in U.S. FTAs, are relatively minor compared to the overall liberalization; and (iii) the biggest winners from such liberalization aren’t corporations or the mega-rich, butconsumers, particularly poor ones.
(More here.) These gains wouldn’t be possible without FTAs (as much as we free traders wish they would be). 
Thus, the idea that FTAs like the TPP, or any other reduction in global trade barriers, benefit the 1 percent at the expense of working class is just not true. Indeed, as we at the Cato Institute are constantly pointing out, the real cronyism in trade policy takes place on the anti-trade side of the ledger: corporations and unions lobbying government to shield them from free-market forces, always at consumers’ expense. It’s precisely for this reason that many of the U.S. lobbying dollars spent on TPP aren’t from pro-export mercantilists (although there are plenty of those, too) but from those anti-competitive industries (autos, steel, textiles, sugar, etc.) and unions that are seeking to scuttle the deal or secure their own special exemptions.

Myth 9: TPA doesn’t matter!

Mostly false. Look, in an ideal world, all of these trade deals would be totally unnecessary: every government in the world would lower its trade barriers, kill its subsidies, and trade freely across borders, thereby enriching us all in the process. But that’s not our world. And even though some pro-TPA rhetoric is exaggerated, the legislation still has value for at least one big reason: U.S. trading partners take it seriously and won’t sign off on a final deal with the United States until TPA’s in place. 
Indeed, over the last few months, officials from JapanCanada, and Chile (among others) have each made clear that their governments won’t finalize TPP until Congress passes TPA. And, again, it’s precisely for this reason that U.S. protectionists are spending major dollars to stop TPA: they don’t really think it’s going to destroy constitutional democracy and install a world government ruled by Emperor Obama; they just oppose free trade or the TPP. And they’re more than happy to prey on conservative insecurities to achieve their goal. 
Since the 1940s, the United States, whether governed by Democrats or Republicans, has been the world’s leader on global trade policy. This leadership, due in part to President Obama’s mismanagement and disinterest, has waned in recent years. A defeat for TPA—and any resulting death of the TPP—would accelerate this decline. 
There are legitimate (although not horrifying!) concerns about the contents of the final TPP deal, but it’s certainly not a harbinger of an economic or constitutional apocalypse. The American public should scrutinize the final agreement closely, but that won’t happen until TPA becomes law. For supporters of free markets, there’s no legitimate reason why it shouldn’t.

Scott Lincicome is an international trade attorney, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and Visiting Lecturer at Duke University. The views expressed herein are Scott Lincicome’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer.

 

Business and Agricultural Leaders Comment on Senate TPA Vote



May 14, 2015
            
Washington D.C. – The Trade Benefits America Coalition, a broad-based group of more than 260 leading U.S. business and agricultural associations and companies, issued the following statement on a Senate vote to start debate on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation:
 
“We commend the Senate for voting to begin debate on the bipartisan TPA-2015 legislation that would help the United States secure the best possible trade agreements to benefit America’s businesses, farmers, and workers,” said David Thomas, President of the Trade Benefits America Coalition. “This bipartisan TPA legislation is critical to help open markets for American-made goods and services and level the playing field with our foreign competitors. We hope the Senate will have a constructive debate and pass this important legislation as soon as possible.” 
 
For more information on the importance of passing the TPA-2015 legislation to help support U.S. growth and jobs, visit www.tradebenefitsamerica.org.
 
The Trade Benefits America Coalition includes a wide range of associations and companies that are dedicated to the pursuit of U.S. international trade agreements that benefit American businesses, farmers, workers, and consumers. The Coalition believes that passage of modernized Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation is important to help ensure America continues to benefit from trade.

Putting Congress in Charge on Trade

By: Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz
Wall Street Journal
April 21, 2015
A container ship and cranes at the Port of Los Angeles. Photo: Getty Images/Glowimages
 
The United States is making headway on two historic trade agreements, one with 11 countries on the Pacific Rim and another with America’s friends in Europe. These two agreements alone would mean greater access to a billion customers for American manufacturers, farmers and ranchers.
 
But before the U.S. can complete the agreements, Congress needs to strengthen the country’s bargaining position by establishing trade-promotion authority, also known as TPA, which is an arrangement between Congress and the president for negotiating and considering trade agreements. In short, TPA is what U.S. negotiators need to win a fair deal for the American worker.
 
There is a lot at stake. One in five American jobs depends on trade, and that share is only going to grow. Ninety-six percent of the world’s customers are outside the U.S. To create more jobs here, America needs to sell more goods and services over there. When that happens, the American worker benefits. Manufacturing jobs tied to trade pay 16% more on average, according to a study released by the independent U.S. International Trade Commission.
 
Right now, though, the American worker isn’t competing on a level playing field against many overseas economies. The U.S. economy is one of the most open in the world—and for good reason. Thanks to lower duties on imports, the average American family saves $13,600 a year, according to a study by HSBC. But other countries put up trade barriers that drive up prices for U.S. goods and services and make it hard to sell them there.
 
The American worker can compete with anybody, if given a fair chance. If you add up all 20 countries that the U.S. has a trade agreement with, American manufacturers run a $50 billion trade surplus with them. The problem is that not all countries have a trade agreement with the U.S.; American manufacturers run a $500 billion trade deficit with those nations. That is why the U.S. needs effective trade agreements to lay down fair and strong rules that level the playing field. Without such rules, America’s trading partners will keep stacking the deck against job creators in this country.
 
But Congress can’t just take the administration’s word that it will drive a hard bargain. We have to hold it accountable, and that is what trade-promotion authority will help do.
 
Under TPA, Congress lays out three basic requirements for the administration. First, it must pursue nearly 150 specific negotiating objectives, like beefing up protections for U.S. intellectual property or eliminating kickbacks for government-owned firms. Second, the administration must consult regularly with Congress and meet high transparency standards.
 
And third, before anything becomes law, Congress gets the final say. The Constitution vests all legislative power in Congress. So TPA makes it clear that Congress—and only Congress—can change U.S. law. If the administration meets all the requirements, Congress will give the agreement an up-or-down vote. But if the administration fails, Congress can hit the brakes, cancel the vote and stop the agreement.
 
Trade-promotion authority will hold the administration accountable both to Congress and to the American people. Under TPA, any member of Congress will be able to read the negotiating text. Any member will be able to get a briefing from the U.S. trade representative’s office on the status of the negotiations—at any time. Any member will get to be a part of negotiating rounds. And most important, TPA will require the administration to post the full text of the agreement at least 60 days before completing the deal, so the American people can read it themselves.
 
The stakes are high, because if you’re not moving forward in trade negotiations, you’re falling behind. In the first 10 years of this century, the countries of East Asia negotiated 48 trade agreements. The U.S., on the other hand, negotiated just two in that region. As a result, America’s share of East Asia’s imports fell by 42%. Every top U.S. competitor did better—every one of them.
 
Meanwhile, China is negotiating agreements with anyone who will listen—from South Korea and Australia to Norway. And it isn’t free enterprise the Chinese are pushing. Instead, it is their own form of crony capitalism. They’re writing rules that favor government-owned firms and hamper American job creators. So it all comes down to this question: Is China going to write the rules of the global economy, or is the United States?
 
By establishing TPA, Congress will send a signal to the world. America’s trading partners will know that the U.S. is trustworthy and then put their best offers on the table. America’s rivals will know that the U.S. is serious and won’t abandon the field. And the American people will know this trade agreement is a good, fair deal—because they’ll have the information they need to decide for themselves. Promoting American trade will create more opportunity in the country, and so we strongly urge our colleagues in Congress to vote for trade-promotion authority.
 
Rep. Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Sen. Cruz, a Republican from Texas, heads the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness.

Time to Pass Trade Promotion Authority

By: Roy Paulson, Chair, National District Export Council
 
The upcoming congressional debate over Trade Promotion Authority gives our elected officials in Washington the chance to create new opportunities and open new markets for American small businesses around the world. I, along with millions of other small-business owners, hope they succeed and pass this critical legislation.
 
My support for TPA is simple to understand. I firmly believe increasing U.S. exports results in increased economic growth and job creation in America. TPA has been essential in negotiating trade agreements that help small businesses like ours sell into markets around the globe. Renewing the TPA agreement will help the U.S. negotiate pending agreements that will open even more foreign markets to the U.S., which will give American workers new markets in which they can more easily sell the goods and services they produce.
 
Recent free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama broke down restrictive and stifling barriers to trade with those countries. The lowered tariffs allowed me to offer products at significantly more competitive prices to a new customer base. The countries involved in the new trade agreements promise even greater benefits due to the size and impact of their global markets.
 
I am a believer in trade. I have seen the reduction in tariffs and regulations improve my sales in other countries, helping me to expand and create jobs here at home. Thanks in large part to our global sales, Paulson Manufacturing, my family-owned business that began providing safety goggles for the motor sports industry, has now become a “world class organization,” distributing a range of protective products to the entire world. In fact, our international sales contribute about 25 percent of our sales and jobs.
 
Many of us business owners who have reaped the benefits of global trade volunteer our time and expertise to assist other small businesses to increase export sales, which promotes our country’s economic growth and creates new, higher-paying jobs for our communities.
 
It is time to modernize trade rules to reflect today’s global economy and deliver greater opportunities for small businesses to thrive. Congress can do so through passage of TPA and completion of pending U.S. free trade agreements with Europe and Pacific Rim nations.
 
The results are clear: trade opens doors abroad and creates jobs in the U.S. The time for action is now. It is time for Congress to make small business a priority and pass Trade Promotion Authority.
 
Roy Paulson is CEO & president of Temecula-based Paulson Manufacturing and director of Paulson International Ltd. Mr. Paulson is an appointed member of the District Export Council and a recipient of the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Achievement Award.

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