The Senate Friday (May 22) passed the Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015.
The bill outlines the negotiating objectives that any administration has to follow in conducting trade talks, and requires Congress and the public to have access to information on trade deals before they are struck. The bill makes Congress a partner in trade agreements. It also deals with cyber theft, trade secrets and intellectual property protection. The last is particularly important to content providers.
The House has yet to pass the bill.
"Today’s bipartisan Senate vote is an important step toward ensuring the United States can negotiate and enforce strong, high-standards trade agreements," sauid President Obama in a statement issued by the White House late Friday. "If done right, these agreements are vital to expanding opportunities for the middle class, leveling the playing field for American workers, and establishing rules for the global economy that help our businesses grow and hire by selling goods Made in America to the rest of the world."
The President even got in a plug for network neutrality, saying the TPA promotes "a free and open Internet"--the bill makes clear that all trade commitments apply to digital as well as physical trade.
“We are very pleased with the Senate’s vote to advance trade promotion authority (TPA)," said Chris Dodd, who represents those content providers as chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America. "The American motion picture industry relies heavily on trade with foreign markets for economic growth that creates jobs here at home. Our industry supports 1.9 million American jobs, generating over 70% of theatrical revenue overseas and registering a positive services trade surplus of $13.4 billion. Today’s passage of TPA is an important step towards completing meaningful trade agreements like TPP that will allow our industry to continue this growth in some of the world’s largest and most important markets."
“This legislation provides a much needed, balanced package that takes into account the realities of the digital economy and Internet era," said Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro. "This and all future trade agreements must balance intellectual property rights and an open-and-fair flow of commerce, helping to ensure our country’s strong, sustained economic growth."
“The Senate took a vital step in helping protect and advance America’s tech industry, along with the jobs and economic strength it delivers," said Software & Information Industry Association VP Mark MacCarthy. "The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade agreements are essential for establishing modern rules for digital trade – trade that will be an increasingly important driver of high wage American jobs and economic growth.”
“Trade has contributed to the extraordinary growth of the technology sector and will continue to play a major role in supporting millions of innovation jobs across tech manufacturing, R&D, telecommunications and IT services in the years ahead," said TechNet president Linda Moore.