WASHINGTON, D.C.—On July 1, the latest iteration of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), known as Fast Track, will expire. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) encourages the Biden administration to use this opportunity to take steps to implement more transparent, democratic trade policy that is better suited to address the climate emergency, unsustainable agricultural practices and ongoing inequality in our economy and society.
The current Fast Track law (Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015) prevents U.S. trade negotiators from achieving critical trade reforms in line with the Biden administration’s ambitions for a worker-centric and environmentally friendly approach to trade. Fast Track explicitly prevents addressing climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions, promotes a dilution of worker protections and environmental standards, and impedes a transition to a better food system. In addition, Fast Track’s consultation provisions exclude civil society and leave most members of Congress in the dark until the very end of the consultation process.
“U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai is conducting a thorough review of all in-progress trade negotiation. The process provides an opportunity to put the U.S. on a new path toward more democratic, transparent and environmentally friendly trade policy, which would not be possible under the current Trade Promotion Authority,” says Karen Hansen-Kuhn, IATP program director.
At the center of an updated approach to trade should be three principles: First, the USTR must democratize trade policy by making trade negotiations more transparent and reducing the influence of corporate lobbyists. Second, our priorities as a nation — including responding to the climate crisis and addressing supply chain fragility — should drive trade policy, rather than the other way around. Third, the U.S. could start fixing the mistakes of prior administrations, beginning with declaring a moratorium on trade disputes that interfere with meeting our climate commitments or create obstacles to a better food and farm system.
“The quiet fading away of Fast Track should not be mourned. Its expiration gives U.S. trade negotiators a real opportunity to break free of the straitjacket that Fast Track has imposed on them, and to implement the Biden administration’s vision of a worker-centric and environmentally sustainable U.S. trade agenda,” says Sharon Anglin Treat, IATP senior attorney.
Download a PDF of the press release.