Yesterday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) officially notified Congress that it would be launching separate trade discussions with the European Union, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The letters sent to Congress provide notice of the Administration’s intent to negotiate trade agreements with each partner as required by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, often referred to as Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”). USTR must wait at least 90 calendar days from yesterday’s notification to initiate negotiations, and must also publish specific negotiating objectives in the Federal Register at least 30 days before talks begin.
In addition to general negotiating objectives across numerous areas – including trade in goods, services, and agriculture; intellectual property; digital trade and cross-border data flows; labor and the environment; trade remedies; anti-corruption; and dispute settlement – TPA also establishes procedures for consultation with Congress and other stakeholders throughout trade agreement negotiations. These procedures include required reports on certain aspects of the agreement prior to signing the agreement; Congressional notification 90 days before signature; release of the final agreement text 60 days before signature; and Congressional notification of expected changes to U.S. law 60-180 days before signature. USTR also engages with public and private sector stakeholders through consultation with various policy- and sector-oriented trade advisory committees and through comment periods and hearings announced in the Federal Register.