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May 12, 2015/  Volume 2015, Issue 14

 Senate Democrats Block Trade Promotion Authority

Dear Valued Customer:


In a 52-45 vote, Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked debate on trade promotion authority legislation granting their own president accelerated power to complete a major trade accord with Asia. The votes were eight short of the 60 needed to proceed.


Republicans and pro-trade Democrats said they would try to negotiate a trade package inclusive of trade enforcement provisions that could clear that threshold. However, those same provisions might doom the Pacific trade negotiations that legislation is supposed to lift.


That is especially true for a measure demanding a crackdown on currency manipulation, which is strongly opposed by Japan and Malaysia, two of the 12 nations trying to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest trade accord in a generation.


Other measures that Democrats want to include in a trade package are provisions to assist workers displaced by globalization, tighten child labor law and fortify the government's response to unfair trade practices.


Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee criticized "a lack of a commitment to trade enforcement." Republicans were equally adamant that accelerated authority not be saddled with many of those demands.


Armed with trade promotion authority, Mr. Obama could complete negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, stretching from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia, knowing that Congress could still kill a final agreement but could not amend or filibuster it. White House officials have said the Pacific trade accord cannot be completed without that authority.


But if Democrats successfully force Mr. McConnell to include that currency measure in the trade promotion bill, the negotiations could collapse.


The way forward is likely to be a negotiated package of trade-enforcement amendments that would be guaranteed a vote, Republican leadership aides said. Before talks collapsed Tuesday morning, talks on that amendment had begun, with Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, offering to drop the currency measure in exchange for a promised vote later this Congress.


But Mr. Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said it was not at all clear the pro-trade forces could resurrect the legislation.


Read more of the New York Times article here.


Since the retroactive renewal of GSP, renewal of AGOA and Haitian trade preference programs were all part of the trade bill package, the fate of these programs hang in the balance until an amended trade package can be put together by our government. We will monitor any significant developments so as to keep our customers informed.


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Kent Sunakoda


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Lisa Whiles


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Terry Pilant 


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Connie Arimoto


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