30 January 2014
IN US President Barack Obama’s State-of-the-Union address on Tuesday, he called on members of Congress to pass something called the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The TPA is a critical component of the President’s trade agenda. Without it, he will not be able to get three massive trade agreements ratified.
President Obama needs the TPA. But its format and content also matter. The content of the Bills currently circulating in Washington has some elements, especially new provisions on currency, which are deeply problematic for both the United States and for its Asian trade partners.
In the US, the Constitution grants the power to approve treaties to the Congress. However, the 535 members of this legislative body long ago recognised that they could not effectively negotiate complex trade agreements. Instead, they allowed the President and the executive branch to bargain on their behalf with foreign governments.
… The writer is head of the Temasek Foundation Centre for Trade & Negotiations, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
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