United States Sen. Ben Sasse says he understands some of the opposition to Trade Promotion Authority.
But, Sasse says Nebraska will gain under the TPA passed by the Senate.
Sasse says advancing trade is good for both producers and consumers in the long term.
“But in the short term, there are obviously reasons that some people worry about it,” Sasse tells Nebraska Radio Network. “In our case, for Nebraska, the big change that would come if we got a transpacific partnership would be that the Japanese would have to lower a lot of their agricultural tariffs, their tariffs and barriers to agricultural products. So Nebraska producers, who are the most productive farmers and ranchers on earth, stand to gain a lot from an open Japanese market.”
Sasse doesn’t agree with critics who say TPA gives too much authority to the president. Sasse says it gives an administration freedom to work out a trade deal.
“What you don’t want to do is have the president trying to negotiate a trade deal that we think would be good for the country and have the other countries that are negotiating with us say, well once you supposedly agree to a deal you’re going to go back to your Congress and they’re going to by pork barrel politics cut it up into all these pieces for their domestic interests and constituencies, and geographies, and local pork interests,” Sasse says.
TPA, also known as fast track, gives a presidential administration, specifically the trade representative, authority to negotiate a deal. The final version would be submitted to Congress for approval. Congress could reject the deal. It could not change it.
Sasse says the president must be given the flexibility his administration needs when negotiating trade deals.
“You end up with a piece of paper that has so many carve outs and holes in it that it isn’t a deal at all,” according to Sasse. “And so, for Nebraska producers to get the access that we want them to have to the Japanese market we want the executive branch to be empowered to go and negotiate a good, strong deal and then the Congress gets to vote yes or no.”
Sasse says TPA will be very beneficial to Nebraska farmers, especially if it paves the way for a trade deal with Japan.
Nebraska ranks 5th among the states in agricultural exports. Total Nebraska exports hit nearly $8 billion last year. The top five agricultural exports in 2013 were soybeans, beef and veal, animal feed, corn and soybean meal.