The Senate is expected soon to start debating whether to grant the president “trade promotion authority” or “fast track”, which would enable the president to put trade agreements before Congress for up-or-down votes, rather than allowing amendments or filibuster opportunities.
The measure would lay the groundwork for a massive trade agreement, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is now in the works. The TPP would reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers across a dozen nations in order to boost trade. The countries involved are the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The TPP countries represent 40 percent of world trade and 40 percent of global GDP. Proponents say fast-track authority is needed so that other governments will be able to negotiate without concern that their concessions could be overturned by Congress.
But opponents say these trade deals impact individual businesses, and elected representatives need to have a say in how they are implemented.
“By 2030, there are expected to be 3.2 billion middle class consumers in Asia alone, more than 8 times the entire projected U.S. population. We can’t afford to miss an opportunity to open these growing markets to American products,” the White House has said.