The National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council filed comments last week in response to a Federal Register notice requesting private-sector comments to the President's Export Council on streamlined congressional consideration of trade legislation, commonly known as Trade Promotion Authority.
The letter pointed out that TPA has been an important element in the negotiation and subsequent congressional approval of all U.S. trade agreements since the 1960s, permitting the president to negotiate trade agreements based on strategic goals and objectives outlined in the legislation with ongoing congressional oversight. Under TPA, Congress may approve or disapprove resulting trade agreements but may not amend them.
The process has worked well over the years, the letter said, since negotiators across the table know that any agreement they strike with U.S. negotiators will not be subject to congressional amendments or changes. If re-negotiations were required it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to conclude the final package. However, the United States has entered into only one new trade negotiation (the TransPacific Partnership) since the most recent TPA expired in 2007, the letter pointed out. Meanwhile, U.S. competitors around the world have concluded literally hundreds of bilateral and regional trade agreements, putting U.S. exports at a distinct disadvantage.
"This year the U.S. exports of poultry, eggs, and related products will have a combined value of almost $6.0 billion. Exports of these products provide for one out of five jobs in the industry, which directly employs nearly 1.4 million workers," according to the letter. Additionally, for each 1% increase in the size of the U.S. poultry and egg industry, the U.S. economy creates at least 1,000 direct full-time jobs and about 5,000 jobs in total. "It is an understatement, therefore, to state that exports are vital to the U.S. poultry and egg business," the joint letter said.
"The United States can only reassert its traditional leadership role in international trade negotiations by enacting new TPA legislation, and we strongly support such legislation and urge that it be comprehensive to encompass TPP, a possible free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union, and all other trade agreements that may be negotiated over the life of the bill," the letter concluded.
A copy of the joint letter to the President's Export Council is available here.