In a move that was cheered by many American freight forwarders but drew criticism from labor unions, the United States Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), earning praise from the U.S. Airforwarders Association (AfA). The legislation would give President Obama more authority in deciding trade negotiations and prohibit Congress from adding amendments. Now that it has passed both houses of Congress, the bill will be directed to President Obama for his signature.
The President also has the authority to fast-track the bill for approval on the impending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would promote free trade between the European Union and the U.S., and the Trade in Services Agreement, which would liberalize the trade of services such as banking, health care and transport.
AfA’s executive director, Brandon Fried, said that this legislation should lead to an increase in shipping, which would benefit all freight forwarders. “As freight forwarders, we know precisely what it means for the United States to be the world’s largest importer of goods and services, and how critical that is not only to our own industry, but to maintaining and enhancing America’s standard of living, economic growth, job creation and global leadership,” Fried said.
Fried noted that more than one in five U.S. jobs depends on exports and imports, and that trade-dependent jobs have more than tripled over the past two decades as a series of bilateral, regional and multilateral trade agreements have been implemented. He also said TPA will clear the way for the streamlining of border clearance operations for U.S. exports as they enter other countries.
Many labor unions, however, have criticized the bill, saying that most trade agreements encourage American corporations to move jobs overseas, where labor is cheaper, or to lower the wages for American workers in order to compete.
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