Congress shouldn’t hesitate to grant President Barack Obama trade-promotion authority to enable him to more quickly negotiate trade deals, Mayor Kasim Reed said Thursday at the formal launch of Atlanta’s Metro Export Plan.  

TPA, also known as fast-track authority, is seen as a prerequisite to finishing out negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping trade pact with 11 Pacific nations. It would allow the president to present a finished deal to Congress for an up or down vote — without debate or the threat of filibuster.  

“We need to lead in the TPP because there’s 40 percent of the global GDP at stake,” Mr. Reed told Global Atlanta. “That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t push or be forceful with our input and comments on the ultimate agreement and put pressure on the White House — I think it’s all healthy — but President Obama shouldn’t be the first president in 18 years not to be able to be granted the authority to negotiate on behalf of the United States.”  

TPA expired in 2007, late in the term of George W. Bush, and trade agreements already negotiated with Panama, Colombia and South Korea gathered dust well into Mr. Obama’s first term before their passage in 2011.   

Along with TPP, the Obama administration is now negotiating the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, a major deal with the European Union.  

The U.S. Senate passed its version of the bill granting fast-track authority on May 22, moving it on to the House of Representatives for a final vote, which is expected sometime in June.  

The debate has made for strange bipartisan alliances: Mr. Obama now finds his trade agenda in the supportive hands of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who ran as a vice presidential candidate against Mr. Obama in 2012. On the opposition front, some Tea Party conservatives have found themselves aligned with most left-leaning democrats. Both Georgia Republican Sens. Isakson and Perdue voted in favor of the act.  

Mr. Reed said the U.S. can’t ignore the fact that future global economic growth will be driven by emerging regions of the world, particularly in Asia. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., he said in remarks on the importance of exports to Atlanta’s competitiveness.  

“I think we really can’t live in a posture of fear. Things have permanently shifted. I know there are strong feelings about Nafta, but that bell can’t be unrung, and so in my opinion I think President Obama has earned our confidence,” the mayor told Global Atlanta.  

As passed by the Senate, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act includes provisions for assistance for workers displaced by trade. 

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...