President Bush this week signed H.R. 3009, the Trade Act of 2002, legislation that gives the President "Trade Promotion Authority" (TPA). TPA allows the President to negotiate trade deals with other nations, in consultation with Congress, in exchange for an up or down vote not subject to amendment by Congress. The Senate passed the bill 64-30 last week after the House adopted the measure the previous week by a three-vote margin.
"With trade promotion authority, the trade agreements I negotiate will have an up-or-down vote in Congress, giving other countries the confidence to negotiate with us. Five Presidents before me had this advantage, but since the authority elapsed in 1994, other nations and regions have pursued new trade agreements while America's trade policy was stuck in park," the President stated. The President noted that since TPA lapsed in 1994, the U.S. has been sidelined while other countries have brokered trade deals. The U.S. is party to only three of approximately 190 trade agreements in existence today.
Bush added, "Exports accounted for roughly one-quarter of all U.S. economic growth in the 1990s. Jobs in exporting plants pay wages that are up to 18% higher than jobs in non-exporting plants. And our two major trade agreements, NAFTA and the Uruguay Round, have created lower prices for consumers, while raising standards of living for the typical American family of four by $2,000 a year. Lowering global trade barriers on all products and services by even one-third could boost the U.S. economy by $177 billion a year, and raise living standards for the average family by $2,500 annually."
Agriculture Secretary Veneman underscored trade's benefits to agriculture, stating, "Twenty-five percent of farm cash receipts come from exports. Nearly half of our wheat and rice crops are exported; about one-third of soybean and meat production is shipped overseas; and 20% of the corn crop is exported. We want to continue growing those markets in the future and TPA will greatly help in that regard."