Retail group supports free-trade program

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The Retail Industry Leaders Association applauded the U.S. Senate's vote late last week to renew the Generalized System of Preference and Trade Adjustment Assistance programs. The bill passed 70-27.

The Senate vote paves the way for the House to approve the package and for President Obama to send the three pending free trade agreements to Congress for passage.

Stephanie Lester, RILA vice president of international trade, issued the following statement.

"RILA welcomes the renewal of both GSP and TAA … and applauds Congress for its bipartisan support for international trade. We urge lawmakers and the president to act swiftly in the next few weeks to ratify the free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Once the three pending trade agreements are ratified, we can all devote more attention to other job-creating trade items, such as the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.

“RILA supports negotiation of a 21st century TPP agreement that generates new trade and investment opportunities that aid workers, businesses and families. In particular, we urge modern and flexible rules in all sectors to maximize the benefits for U.S. companies, consumers, and workers, and provide new market access for U.S. exports.

“American merchants and consumers can no longer afford a delay in implementing free trade agreements, which can foster economic growth and job creation to the U.S. We thank Congress and the administration for their continued bipartisan support and encourage immediate action so that the full benefits of trade agreements can be realized.”