U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman revealed that the Obama administration is ready to discuss with lawmakers a tool to fast track trade negotiations, The Hill newspaper reported Monday.
Vicki Needham writes there was a negotiating authority that allowed trade deals to move through without congressional amendment but this lapsed during President George W. Bush’s reign.
Talks focused on resurrecting the authority have surfaced as the U.S. prepares to broker a $5 trillion trade deal with the European Union in two weeks.
Froman told The Hill that a fast-track authority is critical but not necessary to negotiating the deal, but added President Obama is ready to engage with Congress on trade.
He also sought to head off fears that Europe will leverage the talks to water down the financial regulations authored by former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).
“There’s nothing we’re going to do through trade policy to water down Dodd-Frank,” he told The Hill.
Needham reports Froman is also set to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 12 countries, which include the latest addition of Japan.
“There is a long history in trying to open Japan’s market,” Froman said, adding, “TPP gives us another opportunity to try to do that.”
“We’re going into this with our eyes wide open,” he said to The Hill.
Sealing both trade deals will help Obama reach his goal of doubling exports by 2015 and creating two million related jobs, The Hill added.
Froman also urged the U.S. to engage abroad or face consequences, assuring firms and workers that the focus of the country’s trade policy is firmly on creating opportunities.