NPPC Wants TPA Renewal, Action On Doha

WASHINGTON, D.C. - With the trade clock ticking toward midnight, the National Pork Producers Council today urged Congress to renew the law giving U.S. presidents authority to negotiate trade agreements and asked the Bush administration to strike a deal in the World Trade Organization talks that is beneficial to pork producers.
calendar icon 1 February 2007
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Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which expires June 30, allows the president to negotiate trade agreements with other countries and requires Congress to approve without amendments – or disapprove – those deals. It gives trading partners confidence that the agreements they negotiate with the United States will not be renegotiated by federal lawmakers. President Bush in a speech today in New York City asked for an extension of TPA.

“Every president should have TPA, and we applaud President Bush for asking that it be renewed,” said NPPC President Joy Philippi, a pork producer from Bruning, Neb. “It’s essential that the U.S. continue to negotiate trade deals, which have been extremely beneficial to pork producers. It would be difficult to find a sector of the economy that has benefited more than the pork industry from trade agreements.”

Congress has granted every U.S. president since 1974 the authority to negotiate free trade agreements subject simply to up-or-down votes by Congress within a specified time. Since TPA last was renewed in August 2002, Congress has passed a number of agreements, including ones with Australia, Chile and the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries (DR-CAFTA). Trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Peru now are pending congressional action.

Separately, the WTO Doha Development Round talks have been sputtering along since last July when negotiators reached an impasse. Informal talks last weekend in Switzerland between trade ministers from 30 of the WTO’s 150 member-countries sparked some life into the negotiations, which U.S. pork producers are hoping will open access to the lucrative European Union and Japanese markets. Another move that should help the talks was today’s unveiling of the Bush administration’s Farm Bill proposal, which includes cuts in trade-distorting domestic support.

“Trade is of critical importance to pork producers,” NPPC’s Philippi said, “and we expect a very ambitious outcome for the U.S. pork industry in any Doha agreement. But that cannot happen without an extension of TPA.”

New and expanded market access through trade agreements has been the most important catalyst for increasing U.S. pork exports. Since the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1989, exports of U.S. pork products have grown to more than $2.6 billion from $394 million. Pork exports hit a new record in 2006, their 15 consecutive record year.

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