Obama's nod to trade leaves tough work ahead in Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama holds up a bag of chips as he tours Costco Wholesale in Woodmore Towne Centre in LanhamBy Krista Hughes WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s nod to trade in his annual State of the Union address reflects a delicate political dance and leaves the hard work still ahead in convincing a skeptical Congress to get behind free trade deals. Business lobbyists had hoped Obama would explicitly urge lawmakers to back a bill giving the White House authority to negotiate free trade pacts and put them before Congress for an up-or-down vote, without amendments. This so-called fast-track authority is a litmus test of support for two massive free trade deals currently under negotiation, which would create a network of nations covering roughly two-thirds of global trade. He did, however, devote four sentences to the need for trade and trade promotion authority (TPA) to “protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped ‘Made in the USA.'” “There are all kinds of political landmines on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress that have to be overcome,” said National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons on Wednesday.

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