FTA and WTO progress

The GAO has published an interesting analysis of Free Trade Agreements made since 2002(WTO GATTS style).

Congress granted the President Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in 2002 through the Trade Act of 20021 to negotiate agreements, including free trade agreements (FTA), which aim to reduce trade barriers and expand trade with selected trade partners. The legislation granting TPA stipulated trade negotiating objectives and procedural steps to guide the administration in these negotiations. These include mandatory consultations before, during, and after negotiations with Congress, as well as reports on the likely impact of trade agreements from the formal trade advisory committee system. This congressionally created trade advisory committee system, which includes both policy-level and technical committees, also provides ongoing advice throughout negotiations.TPA authority lapsed in July 2007, amidst questions about how this authority was used, the economic significance of the FTAs pursued, and the conduct of required consultations before, during, and after negotiations. Yet, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha round of talks aimed at liberalizing trade on a worldwide basis,2 as well as FTA negotiations with Malaysia, are still ongoing, prompting the President to urge Congress to renew TPA.To address these issues, we reviewed: (1) What FTAs have been pursued under TPA and why? (2) Overall, what is the economic significance of these agreements to the United States? (3) What is the nature of the consultation process for Congress and how well has it worked in practice? (4) What is the nature of the consultation process for private sector trade advisory committees and other stakeholders, and how well has it worked in practice?

As agreed, we will provide a second report in spring 2008 that will provide more information and analysis on the economic and commercial significance of FTAs, as well as a review of progress made by FTA partner countries in strengthening labor and environmental laws and enforcement.
1Pub. L. No. 107-210, Div. B, 116 Stat. 933, 993–1022 (codified at 19 U.S.C. §§ 3801-13).
2Launched in November 2001 in Doha, Qatar, these negotiations involve 150 nations and encompass a far-reaching agenda for liberalizing trade and bolstering development in poorer countries. Among other things, they involve efforts to reach agreement to reduce barriers such as tariffs (border taxes) and trade-distorting subsidies on agriculture, manufactures, and services trade. For further background see www.wto.org and GAO, World Trade Organization: Congress Faces Key Decisions as Efforts to Reach Doha Agreement Intensify, GAO-07-379 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 5, 2007). Page 1

I have only scanned it but thought it worth attention.