In the next few weeks Georgia's U.S. senators will vote on a piece of legislation that will have a profound impact on the Georgia economy: The Trade Promotion Authority for President George W. Bush. This will allow the president to enter into trade agreements with other countries, while allowing an up-or-down vote by the Congress on the agreements.
There are currently 134 trade agreements in force around the world. The European Union is party to 27 of these agreements - the United States takes part in only three. In fact, the U.S. ranks 26th in numbers of trade agreements, behind nations like Tunisia and Luxembourg.
Steps need to be taken now if our nation is to have any hope of staying competitive in foreign markets throughout the next century.
How is foreign trade good for Georgia? Georgia's export sales of merchandise in 2000 totaled more than $1.8 billion, and manufactured exports created more than 186,000 Georgia jobs.
In December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3005, a bill that would renew TPA. The U.S. Senate is due to begin debate on its version of this legislation within the next month. Unless the Senate passes this bill and gives President Bush the power necessary to negotiate trade agreements quickly, our state's economy could be in further jeopardy.
Without certified authority to guarantee timely ratification or rejection of trade agreements, the president will not be able to prevent the U.S. from slipping farther behind other nations in the relentless competition for the global market.
I, like many of you, trust this president to make trade decisions in the best interest of all Americans. Our senators must support our nation's trade negotiators in bargaining rooms around the globe by voting in favor of Trade Promotion Authority.
Joey Brush, Atlanta, Ga.
(Editor's note: The writer is a Republican senator for Georgia who represents District 24 in Appling.)