By  on January 9, 2014

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday that would renew the President’s trade promotion authority and give the U.S. more leverage in negotiating trade deals.

Fashion industry trade groups hailed the move by lawmakers to advance legislation they argue is crucial to helping the U.S. wrap up negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact between the U.S. and 11 countries.

Sens. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), the ranking Republican on the committee, along with House Ways & Means chairman Dave Camp, introduced the bicameral legislation.

“The TPA legislation that we are introducing today will make sure that these trade deals get done, and get done right,” Baucus said. “TPA legislation is critical to a successful trade agenda. It is critical to boosting U.S. exports and creating jobs, and it’s critical to fueling America’s growing economy.”

The bill’s sponsors said the new TPA legislation would establish the authority for four years, with the option of extending it an additional three years, and tighten Congressional oversight, and includes updated trade-negotiating objectives such as addressing currency manipulation, promoting global value chains and strengthening consultations with Congress and the public. The authority, formerly known as “fast track,” expired in 2007 under President George W. Bush. Under TPA, Congress does not have the ability to amend trade pacts negotiated by the executive branch and can only vote yes or no on them.

“The sooner we restore trade promotion authority, the sooner the United States can restore its credibility in negotiating trade agreements that benefit U.S. workers and create jobs in the United States,” said Philip C. Williamson, chairman of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, and president, chief executive officer and chairman of Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. “Without trade promotion authority, the United States risks leaving trade partners with the sense that our word at the negotiating table isn’t worth anything because the administration and Congress aren’t working in concert.”

Julia Hughes, president of the U.S. Fashion Industry Association, said, “The fashion industry relies on new markets for both imports and exports of inputs and finished products. TPA will allow these markets to be open for U.S. fashion businesses even sooner, and grow the economy and jobs in industries across the United States.”

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