U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday urged Congress to grant the Barack Obama administration the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) so as to finalize ongoing free trade talks in a more efficient manner.
In order to drive global growth and prosperity, the first thing for the United States is to finalize the free trade agreements and the bilateral investment treaties that the country is currently working on, Kerry said at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, a biennial event initiated by the Obama administration in 2011 to streamline investment promotion efforts.
The administration is stepping up efforts to advance trade deals with Asia and Europe to cement a trade legacy. But to conclude these complex trade agreements, the White House needs first to get the TPA from Congress.
The TPA, also known as fast-track, empowers the president to negotiate trade deals and then present them to Congress for up-or-down votes, with no amendments allowed. Fast track is popular with Republicans but has many Democratic critics.
Sending a call to Congress to support the free trade talks, Kerry said,"When I was in the Senate, I think I voted for every single free trade agreement."
At the summit, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew also called on Congress to pass the TPA for an early conclusion of the trade deals.
Lew said that Congress will likely take up the TPA in the near future and stressed that passing the legislation is vital to promoting trade and increasing "middle class security" in a changing global economy.