Policy Analysis

Brave New Deal? Assessing the May 10th U.S. Bipartisan Compact on Free Trade Agreements

By Aaron Cosbey on August 16, 2007
On May 10 2007, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, powerful members of the newly-ascendant U.S. Democratic Party, announced that they had negotiated a compromise agreement with the Bush Administration and leading Congressional Republicans on critical changes to pending free trade agreements with Peru and Panama. Until that time, there had seemed to be slim hope that either agreement would win approval from a Congress dominated by Democrats, many of whom had been elected on promises to rein in what their constituents saw as a harmful proliferation of flawed trade deals.

The new compact spawns a number of questions for those focused on U.S. trade policy: will its provisions become the new template for bilateral and regional trade agreements? Will it influence the granting of fast track negotiating authority (trade promotion authority) to the administration? Will it even help in the passage of the two agreements to which it applies, given substantial dissatisfaction with the deal within the Democratic caucus? And does Congress' intervention in a negotiated trade deal spell the end of TPA as it was formerly understood?

Aaron Cosbey assesses the compromise.