On June 18, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA), allowing President Obama and future presidents to enter into and conclude strong, new market-opening free trade agreements. The House vote was 218-208, and most of Georgia’s GOP delegation voted in favor of the legislation. The measure now moves to the Senate for approval.
TPA does not provide new power to the Executive Branch. Since 1974, Congress has enacted TPA legislation that defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the President to follow throughout the negotiation process. At the end of the negotiation and consultation process, Congress gives the agreement an up or down vote, without amendment. The most recent TPA law was approved in August 2002 and expired on June 30, 2007.
In a June 3 letter, the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) urged House members to support the bill because of its importance in promoting free and fair trade for the forest products industry and its customers.
“AF&PA really appreciates the support of those in the GA Congressional delegation who understand the value of free trade to the forest products industry,” Erik Heilman, AF&PA Director of Government Affairs said. “International commerce is vital to the industry; whether it’s our direct exports or those from our customers. The more American goods and products that are packaged and shipped in paper and wood-based materials, the more we benefit. And with over 95 percent of the world’s population living outside of the U.S., international trade is critical to a strong consumer-driven industry like ours.”
According to the American Forest & Paper Association, exports are an important component of the forest industry’s economic health, accounting for about 15 percent of total sales of U.S. forest products. In 2014, U.S. exports of forest products amounted to $31.9 billion, of which $22.2 billion were exports of pulp and paper products, and $9.7 billion exports of wood and wood products.
The Georgia Forestry Association will continue to monitor and report on this issue as it progresses. Visit the links below for more news regarding the recent passage of TPA:
- Growing Georgia: Ag Groups Applaud House’s Passage of TPA Bill
- Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia GOP lawmakers give Obama a boost on trade
- The Hill: House approves fast-track 218-208, sending bill to Senate
UPDATE: The Senate approved the TPA legislation on Wednesday, June 24, on a 60-38 vote. The bill was then approved by the President on June 29. Learn more →