Former Secretaries Push for Free Trade Agreements

Free trade agreements strengthen United States’ competitiveness, spur economic growth and bolster job creation, wrote former Secretary of Commerce William Daley in a U.S. Department of Commerce blog. Daley, one of a group of 10 former commerce secretaries, whose tenures spanned from 1972 to 2012, made a plea to Congress to pass trade promotion authority (TPA) for President Barrack Obama. Recently, eight former U.S. Department of Agriculture secretaries had made a similar plea.

“American companies grow and succeed in the global market place through high-quality high-standard trade agreements that help our firms gain access to new overseas markets,” the bipartisan group’s letter states. “New U.S. trade agreements will generate more export opportunities for American companies, boost our economy, create jobs and yield overall prosperity for our country.”

The secretaries urged Congress to omit currency provisions from trade promotion legislation. “... we believe that currency issues would be more effectively addressed by the Department of Treasury through continued intensive dialogue and bilateral engagement, not by providing the commerce department additional authority under Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty law or through currency-related obligations in trade agreements.”

TPA, which hasn’t been approved since 2007, requires the administration to seek Congress’s guidance throughout negotiations. Obama is currently working on two agreements, which could open overseas markets to American companies: the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Combined, they will provide access to free trade arrangements with 65% of global GDP as well as provide preferential access to new potential customers, according the secretaries’ letter.

- Diana Mota, NACM associate editor

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