WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Three top U.S.
lawmakers on key congressional committees have reached a bipartisan deal
on legislation the White House needs to advance international trade
agreements and will introduce the measure early next month,
congressional aides said on Saturday.
The Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which would let the
White House put trade agreements before Congress for an up or down
vote without amendments, is considered crucial to enacting trade
deals and could pave the way for major accords with Pacific Rim and
European trading partners.
The agreement was reached among Max Baucus, a Democrat who chairs
the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over trade, the
committee's senior Republican, Orrin Hatch, and Representative Dave
Camp, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee,
which is also oversees trade issues.
The agreement was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.
The measure has a provision directing negotiators to consider
currency issues as a negotiating objective, one aide said. Details
were not available.
Foreign exchange fairness is a critical issue for many U.S.
businesses, which argue that some countries suppress the value of
their currency against the U.S. dollar to give their products an
advantage over U.S. goods. China, with which the United States had a
$315 billion trade deficit in 2012, is a frequent target of such
U.S. negotiators are in the endgame of a deal with countries in
Latin America and Asia known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and
are also working on an accord with the European Union, the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Trade deals usually lower the cost of goods into the United States
but also may cause job losses as manufacturers move facilities
abroad where labor is cheaper. Trade promotion authority is
considered essential to prevent such deals, which are often
laboriously negotiated over years, from getting bogged down in
The ambitious U.S.-led Tran-Pacific Partnership 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 economy.
The countries failed to reach a deal on the pact at a conference in
Singapore that ended on Tuesday, as divisions over handling of
intellectual property, agricultural tariffs and state-owned
enterprises were unresolved.
The third round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership negotiations involving the United States and the EU is
expected to take place in mid-December.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; editing by Vicki Allen)