Agreements & Legislation

U.S. trade policy turned 80 last Thursday.

Eight decades later, the Obama administration’s pending request for a new Trade Promotion Authority bill would guide five negotiations: the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; the Geneva-based Trade in Services Agreement; and the WTO’s ongoing negotiations to eliminate tariffs on environmental technologies and information technology goods. Thus trade negotiations join Social Security, farm supports, minimum wages, and child labor laws among the 21st century’s principal living New Deal legacies.

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Agreements & Legislation

The U.S. Congress has passed 18 “negotiating authority” bills since 1934.

Congress has passed 18 U.S. trade negotiating authority bills since the first one, the New Deal-era Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act. As time has passed, policy has grown more ambitious and Congresses have given administrations more detailed guidance. The 2014 proposal, the “Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014,” is no exception.

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