September 27, 2001

September 27, 2001 | News Releases on Foreign Aid and Development

President Needs Trade Promotion Authority, Think Tank Directors Say

WASHINGTON, Sep. 27, 2001-The heads of seven prominent Washington think tanks today urged Congress to grant President Bush Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) as part of its post-Sept. 11 economic stimulus package.

"Besides being a powerful cure for economic malaise, TPA is vitally important to our new foreign policy priorities," said Edwin Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation. "This is no time for delay. The World Trade Organization meeting in Qatar is only a few weeks away, and it's important that America use the event to re-establish its commitment to world leadership in spite of the Sept. 11 tragedy."

Feulner was joined by Michael H. Armacost, president of the Brookings Institution; C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Institute for International Economics; Christopher C. DeMuth, president of the American Enterprise Institute; John J. Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute; and William A. Niskanen, chairman of the Cato Institute.

TPA, formerly known as "fast track" authority, allows the president to negotiate trade deals that are subject only to "up or down" votes by Congress, with no chance for lawmakers to add deal-breaking amendments. Both Republican and Democratic presidents held this authority from 1974 until 1994, when it expired and was not renewed.

"If the United States were to remain absent from international trade negotiations for another five years or so, substantial trade discrimination against us would result," said Bergsten. "U.S. leadership of the global trading system would become a distant memory, and the United States would be unable to even participate in meaningful new negotiations."

Added Cato's Niskanen: "In the absence of TPA, many governments may not negotiate with our government, fearing that Congress would pick apart a complex proposed agreement-approving only those provisions that benefit favored U.S. interests and rejecting those provisions that are necessary to gain the approval of a comprehensive agreement by other governments."

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