US President George Bush formalized Wednesday his announced request to the Democratic-led Congress to renew his fast-track authority (officially Trade Promotion Authority) for negotiating international trade agreements.
"Presidents of both parties have considered this authority essential to completing good trade agreements," Bush said in a state of the economy speech in New York. "The authority is set to expire on July 1, and I ask Congress to renew it." Bush needs Congress to extend his fast-track powers to finish the stalled Doha round of global trade talks and press ahead with several bilateral trade deals in the pipeline. In the recent World Economic Forum of Davos, Switzerland, an informal commitment from major trading nations was reached to re-launch the Doha round. "We're going to work hard to complete it" he said. "We are dedicated to making sure that we have a successful Doha round." However President Bush could face resistance on the trade front from Democrats, some of whom consider international deals struck so far to be harmful to American workers. "I know there's going to be a vigorous debate on trade, and bashing trade can make for good sound bites on the evening news, but walling off America from world trade would be a disaster for our economy," he said. The World Trade Organization's Doha round, launched in 2001, was suspended last July with the United States, Europe and developing countries led by Brazil at loggerheads over farm trade reform and opening developing markets to goods and investments from highly industrialized countries. TPA bans US Congress from introducing amendments to trade agreements: either it approves the whole package or it or rejects it, thus avoiding endless renegotiations.