House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan
Republican, said lawmakers had made considerable progress in pulling
together a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill and expect to pass
it within the first few months of 2014.
The Obama administration has said it needs Congress to approve TPA,
which would allow any trade deal to move swiftly through Congress.
With TPA, lawmakers cannot amend or filibuster trade deals but can
still vote for or against them.
The administration needs that fast-track rule to clinch two huge
trade deals, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 other
Pacific Rim countries, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union.
The administration argues that TPA, which expired in 2007, is useful
in coaxing countries to put their best deal on the table without
fearing that Congress could reopen and amend them.
Camp's comments came in response to the Tuesday morning conclusion
of the TPP ministerial meeting in Singapore.
The ambitious U.S.-led TPP would create a free-trade bloc with 11
other countries including Vietnam, Chile, New Zealand, Japan and
Mexico, in an area that makes up about 40 percent of the global
The Singapore meeting ended in no TPP deal, but the Obama
administration said significant progress was made and that the
nations found common ground on a number of issues during the
Reuters reported on Tuesday that the 12 countries failed to reach
agreement on some thorny issues, including intellectual property,
agricultural tariffs and state-owned enterprises. Differences over
farm tariffs between the United States and Japan also presented a
major roadblock in the negotiations.
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U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman had said previously the
United States was aiming to finalize a deal before the end of this
year. The negotiations will now move into another year, with the
next meeting scheduled for January.
The third round of the TTIP negotiations involving the United States
and the EU are expected to take place in mid-December.
"Concluding these negotiations, as well as other trade agreements,
will require congressional passage of Trade Promotion Authority
legislation," Camp said in a statement. "Given the considerable
bipartisan and bicameral progress that has been made on that front,
I expect we will be in a position to do so early next year if we
have the administration's active participation."
A spokeswoman for Camp said the lawmaker has been working with
Senator Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance
Committee, and Senator Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the panel,
to put together a TPA bill.
But any legislation could face roadblocks from a number of
Republicans and Democrats in the House who say the administration
has not adequately consulted them on ongoing trade negotiations and
that TPA would strip Congress of its constitutional right to vet
Other lawmakers have said they would not grant TPA unless issues
like currency manipulation and intellectual property protection are
addressed in any TPP deal.
(Editing by Philip Barbara)
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