THE National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, U.S. Poultry & Egg Assn. and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council filed comments Nov. 30 in response to a Federal Register notice requesting private-sector comments on the President's Export Council on streamlined congressional consideration of trade legislation, commonly known as trade promotion authority (TPA).
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 and permits 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, according to the poultry industry comments, 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 renegotiations were required, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to conclude the final package.
The U.S. has entered into only one new trade negotiation (the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP]) since the most recent TPA expired in 2007, the comments pointed out. Meanwhile, U.S. competitors around the world have concluded literally hundreds of bilateral and regional trade agreements, putting U.S. exporters 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 comments.
Additionally, for each 1% increase in the size of the U.S. poultry and egg industry, at least 1,000 direct full-time jobs and about 5,000 total jobs are created. "It is an understatement, therefore, to state that exports are vital to the U.S. poultry and egg business," the joint comments said.
"The U.S. 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 U.S. and the European Union and all other trade agreements that may be negotiated over the life of the bill," the comments concluded.