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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 6, 2013 at 7:02 PM

We need strong trade agreements in Wash. state

Trade promotion authority would empower Congress to create negotiating objectives

Jon Talton’s column “Fast track risky path for Pacific trade pact” [Online, Dec. 1] fails to capture the importance of fast track authority (also known as trade promotion authority or TPA) as a policy tool for both the president and Congress.

Far from promoting secrecy or reducing congressional oversight in trade agreements, TPA would empower Congress to create high-standard negotiating objectives for trade agreements and would require U.S. trade negotiators to consult extensively with Congress.

As a result, TPA increases transparency for trade negotiations and ensures that trade agreements have no surprises. In fact, every president since FDR had TPA, until it expired in 2007. If Congress wants increased oversight over negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership to ensure it is most beneficial to the United States, it is imperative it pass TPA as quickly as possible.

Washington is one of the most trade-supported states in the nation, with 40 percent of jobs tied to international trade. This means we need strong trade agreements to open new markets for Washington products and to protect supply chains of our state’s retailers and manufacturers. We cannot afford to miss out on unprecedented opportunities to grow our economy due to a misunderstanding of TPA.

— Eric Schinfeld, President of the Washington Council on
International Trade, Seattle

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