On June 26, King & Spalding reported on the trio of bills—the Trade Act of 2015, the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, and the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015—that comprise the first large-scale revision to U.S. trade law since the enactment of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act in 1994. The driving force behind those bills was the renewal of Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) (so-called “fast track” authority), which requires an up or down vote by Congress, without amendments, to approve international trade agreements. TPA was deemed essential to complete negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”).
While TPP is a primary element of the U.S. trade agenda, TPA sets the objectives and ground rules for the Obama Administration’s negotiation of several other bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements that currently are underway. In addition to TPP, TPA applies to the negotiation of the Trade in Services Agreement, expansion of the Information Technology Agreement, negotiation of the Environmental Goods Agreement, and negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement. TPA also will apply to new trade negotiation initiatives over the next six years when certain conditions are satisfied. In short, TPA sets USTR’s negotiation teams into motion on several fronts to conclude free trade agreements (“FTAs”) in furtherance of the U.S. trade agenda.
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