A May 17 NAFTA deadline has been in the news. That’s because Congressional leaders have advised the Trump administration that the deal needs to get done soon in order to have a vote on NAFTA 2.0 in this Congress under so-called “fast track” voting procedures. There are all sorts of steps on the timeline built into the Trade Promotion Authority legislation (TPA) for expedited approval of trade agreements. Here’s a short version of the history, context, and essentials of how it all works.
Here’s your annotated guide to the timeline and procedures for “fast track” approvals of U.S. trade deals by Congress.
In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Bueller’s classmates stare blankly, blow bubbles, and fall asleep on their desks as high school teacher Ben Stein (an economist in real life) explains how the United States sank deeper into depression in the early 1930s. As he drones on, asking the students questions — “Anyone? Anyone?” — few of the movie’s fans realize he’s teaching one of the most important lessons in the history of trade policy: how Congress muffed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930.
Trade agreements offer a variety of benefits, most notably tariff cuts – but only to goods that qualify. Rules of origin serve that gatekeeper function, aiming to ensure that the benefits of trade agreements go to the goods of the parties.
Most products today are the result of creative, physical, and intellectual efforts by people in different roles across the globe—they are designed in one country, their materials are procured in another, their components may be made and assembled somewhere else. Their “Made in…” labels only tell us the country where that product last underwent some significant change or “substantial transformation”. That’s just a snapshot of one stop on their journey
Before there was a WTO, the United States developed the tools to take matters into its own hands, using a trade tool known as Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. It hasn’t been used much since 1995 when the WTO’s dispute settlement procedures came into effect, but the Trump Administration appears to be ready to dust it off to maximize leverage in its trade negotiations with China.
Pull into a camp ground and you’ll find tremendous variety among recreational vehicles (RVs) parked there. Around eighty percent of them were made Elkhart County, Indiana. Today, less than 10 percent of U.S. RV production is exported, but the industry is finding opportunity in some surprising new markets including China, the United Arab Emirates, Korea and Thailand.
Governments have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their food supplies, and to protect the health of the plants and animals that supply the food system. In negotiating trade agreements, countries have sought to balance the twin objectives of protecting human, plant, and animal health and ensuring the international flow of safe food.
As NAFTA negotiations get underway, the United States and Canada face a challenging mix of issues. Some represent longstanding disputes between the two countries. Others may be new priorities for the Trump Administration and untested in trade agreements. Still others, like commitments to facilitate digital trade, both sides are ready to agree. Here’s your cheat sheet.
Since 1947, the global trade rules have contained a “national security exception.” WTO members operate on the presumption that their fellow members will exercise the exception rarely and in good faith.