U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday signed several trade bills into law, including the legislation giving him the so-called fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals with other countries, injecting new momentum to the stalled Asia-Pacific trade talks.
"The trade authorization that's provided here is not the actual trade agreements. So we still have some tough negotiations that are going to be taking place," Obama said at a signing ceremony for the trade legislation at the White House.
After weeks of fighting over the trade bills, U.S. Congress finally agreed last week to give the president fast-track authority, also known as trade promotion authority, to submit trade deals to Congress that cannot be amended, which would speed up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations that had stalled for months.
Other TPP participants have signaled that they would like to put their best offers on the table and conclude the trade deal only after the Obama administration has secured the fast-track authority from Congress.
The Obama administration wants to wrap up TPP negotiations, which cover 40 percent of the global economy, in the next few months and bring the 12-country agreement to Congress for ratification by the end of this year, before the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign heats up, according to trade experts.
Obama also signed a measure into law that provides relief for U. S. workers who lose their jobs as a result of U.S. trade deals with other countries and extends trade preferences for another decade to sub-Saharan African countries.