Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Fast Track" Important to Tech Industry

On Friday, the U.S. House of Rep- resentatives will likely consider legislation that will allow trade agreements to move through Congress under special rules intended to speed up the approval process.

A great resource is the Information Technology Industry Council's TechWonk Blog:

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, also colloquially known as “fast-track”) will help grow America’s economy and create new jobs by ensuring future trade agreements benefit American workers, consumers, and businesses. Through the TPA bill, Congress has the ability to tell U.S. Trade officials what goals they must meet to benefit their constituents and local businesses.

The bill enjoys (and passed the Senate with) bipartisan support – of a unique kind. The President has urged its passage, and many pro-trade congressional Republicans and Democrats have said they would support the bill. But some Republicans have indicated they’re on the fence, possibly because they don’t want to support what’s being referred to as “Obamatrade,” or, for that matter, the President himself, because it grants him “too much power.” Many Democrats oppose the bill, some because they still have NAFTA in mind, others because they’ve been threatened by the labor lobby.

Since these complex issues are, as always, rife with political rhetoric, perhaps it’s worth looking at two key myths about this legislation.

Regarding the legislation granting the president some sort of unilateral power, the fact is that Congress still must approve any trade agreement negotiated by the president in an up or down vote. As the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service notes, TPA represents a “gentleman’s agreement” between the Congress and the president, in which the legislative branch offers “fast track” rules if the executive branch agrees to follow a detailed set of negotiating objectives and engages in a consultations with Congress. (A fact that even some members of Congress apparently didn’t realize.)  And of course it’s worked for decades; Congress has endowed every U.S. president since FDR at least some trade negotiating authority.

But those are just Congress’ arguments. Others attacking the legislation say that TPA (and its accompanying Pacific-rim Trade Agreement, or TPP) only benefits large corporations at the expense of workers. This specious reasoning vastly overlooks the fact that innumerable growing businesses and industries, both large and small, will be hurt if the bill fails. In 2012 alone, for example, the U.S. technology industry exported more than $85.5 billion worth of technology goods to TPP countries.

Passage of this critical legislation should be determined by careful consideration of the facts, not by partisan rhetoric and unfounded claims. Luckily, you can help in this effort by taking two minutes to send a letter to your Representative and urge them to pass this important legislation. Join us and speak out in support of jobs, growth, and prosperity. The vote is Friday, so please act now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Apply for SSTI's '15 Excellence in TBED Awards

Consider sharing your organization's achievements by applying for SSTI's 2015 Excellence in TBED awards.

SSTI will present awards in six categories that focus on several elements found in thriving tech-based economies.  These include research base that generates new knowledge, mechanisms for transferring knowledge into the marketplace, an entrepreneurial culture, sources of risk capital and competitive industries. Other categories are available.

If you wish to participate in an informational conference call June 15, register at to register.

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