President Obama sealed a legislative victory Monday when he signed two trade bills into law, one that will allow forward movement on pending trade deals and one that will provide trade preferences for nations that need it.
The president signed the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or fast-track bill—which will allow him to send trade deals to Congress for yea or nay votes and no amendments—after a hotly debated campaign and opposition from his own party. The fast-track legislation is expected to accelerate the completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement the U.S. is negotiating with 11 Pacific Rim nations.
Obama also signed a trade preferences bill that renews the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) for 10 years, updates the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and extends the Haiti HOPE/HELP deal. The preferences bill also included a measure, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that provides $450 million to retrain workers displaced because of free trade deals.
“We’re going to turn global trade into a race to the top and reestablish our leadership role in the world,” The Hill reported the president as saying during the signing ceremony. “Trade is one part of a broader agenda of middle-class economics,” he added.
American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) president and CEO Juanita D. Duggan said in a statement following the signing, “With the focus now turning toward the TPP negotiations, we’re hopeful that the Administration advocates on behalf of flexible rules so that our members can fully benefit from what would be the largest free trade agreement to-date.”