Introduction of a bill to renew the White House’s fast-track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) was hailed as a bipartisan success, but there are lingering concerns.
While U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has objected to any currency rules in TPA, he did signal an openness to supplement the Treasury’s current regular report of foreign exchange rates that could give the White House room to label countries as currency manipulators.
That small concession appeared to indicate that the administration is beginning to feel the pressure from trade bill opponents who want to label countries as currency manipulators, said Eric Shimp, policy advisor in Alston & Bird’s International Trade & Regulatory Group.
“We already see Lew trying to deliver a compromise to assuage Schumer,” Shimp said. “I think they end up adding meatier language and extracting promise that Treasury will do more. The only TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] country this will trouble is Japan, but the currency measure is all about China, so the White house will work hard to kick this can down the road a bit.”
During a Finance Committee hearing, Senator Orrin Hatch said the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) extension and the fast-track bill would remain separate packages.
While it is not unprecedented for Congress to move on a host of trade measures in quick succession, Shimp acknowledged that the emerging multipronged approach could prove tricky, particularly with regard to the lower chamber.
“This approach is probably riskier for the House than the Senate,” he said. “The significant risk is twofold, that the substance of TAA remains disputed and enough Democrats view this move as an attempt to hold TAA hostage to passage of [fast-track].”