We expect that Congressional leaders will introduce bipartisan trade promotion legislation as early as today. While this legislation does not have commercial ramifications, its successful enactment into law will enable the completion and implementation of certain international trade agreements that will have significant commercial ramifications.
In addition, the legislation will provide a vehicle for the potential enactment into law of several other commercially relevant pieces of legislation. These include the renewal and extension of US trade preference programs, which provide for duty-free access to the US market for imports from developing countries; an extension or expansion of Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program that provides expanded job training and unemployment benefits to workers who have lost there jobs due to increased imports; changes to US trade enforcement laws (anti-dumping and countervailing duty); and changes to US Customs processes.
Successful passage of this legislation, along with some or all of the other legislation noted above, is very likely by the US Senate. The fate of the legislation in the House of Representatives is more uncertain, however, because inclusion of some of the additional policies noted above will be opposed by some Republicans. Also, the Obama administration has struggled to build support for the process Congress will use to vote on legislation (known as “trade promotion authority”) among House Democrats.
The ultimate fate of this legislation will be important to those in trade-exposed sectors, those for whom exports are an important business component, and those who rely on imports as part of their supply chain or who interact with US Customs.