President Obama just signed two significant trade initiatives – Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), and the extension of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and other trade preference programs, which includes renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and trade remedy improvements. For the full story on how both got passed check out our recap of the last week in steel.
TPA or “fast track” will ensure an up or down vote on future trade pacts, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, before the Senate can add amendments to them. TAA is a bill that will fund retraining programs and other support initiatives for workers displaced by future trade pacts. TAA also will improve enforcement of dumping actions against foreign manufacturers.
The steel industry applauded today’s action, particularly enactment of the trade remedy measures for which the industry strongly advocated:
“Today’s bill signing is the culmination of dedication and hard work by many members of the steel industry, partner industries and numerous steel champions in the House and Senate who worked tirelessly to ensure the trade remedy provisions were included in the trade package,” Said Thomas Gibson, CEO and president of the American Iron and Steel Institute. “We thank the Administration for recognizing the critical role of the steel industry by supporting these initiatives to improve the effectiveness of our anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws.”
Gibson said the steel industry “greatly appreciate having these improved tools at our disposal in our continuing efforts to combat unfair trade, given the trade laws have not been updated by Congress in over 20 years. The surge in foreign steel imports continues at record high levels, leaving us with a great deal more work to do to mitigate the job loss and negative impact on our industry. We urge quick action by Congress to adopt the Senate version of the ENFORCE Act during the House-Senate conference on the customs bill, which will better enable companies and workers to combat the evasion of anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders. We hope to soon see the president signing that bill also,” Gibson concluded.
ENFORCE stands for Enforcing Orders and Reducing Customs Evasion. The tougher customs enforcement bill must still go through a House-Senate conference committee.
“I would not be signing these bills if I was not absolutely convinced that these pieces of legislation are ultimately good for American workers,” President Obama said at the ceremony.