FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(April 22, 2015)
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
WASHINGTON (April 22, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today submitted testimony to both the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, urging Congress to reject Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that does not address the United States’ massive trade deficit or currency manipulation.
“Trade Promotion Authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) fails to address our nation’s massive and growing trade deficit or currency manipulation in member countries of TPP negotiations,” said Johnson. “Congress should maintain its constitutional authority to address these concerns by rejecting TPA legislation that removes it.”
Johnson noted that American agriculture’s good fortune to fair relatively well in trade is overshadowed by a massive overall trade deficit that represents a roughly three percent drag on the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“International trade is an important part of successful family farming in the U.S., but increasing trade is not an end unto itself,” said Johnson. “Our nation’s trade deficit, which causes a drag on overall growth of the economy, has negative impacts on jobs and rural communities. Because of this significant impact, all future trade agreements, such as TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), must have the explicit objective of balancing trade.”
Johnson noted that currency manipulation also remains a top concern for NFU, as it has the capacity to eliminate any potential gains in tariff reductions that may be made in free trade agreements.
“Without measures to enforce restrictions on currency manipulation, free trade agreements fail to live up to the promises made by their supporters,” said Johnson “With passage of Trade Promotion Authority, Congress eliminates its capacity to ensure that this significant trade agreement contains enforceable measures to address currency manipulation.”
Johnson said that the original intent of TPA was to lay out the procedures for notification between the executive and legislative branch and the expedited legislative process for approval.
“TPA legislation sets forth the objectives for any president for negotiating trade agreements,” said Johnson. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations are largely completed, so there is no need for Congressionally-assigned, unenforceable objectives. Objective-setting should occur prior to the start of negotiations, not near the end.
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.