Fast Track Authority and International Trade Negotiations
Posted: 25 Mar 2009
Date Written: April 1, 2008
Fast Track Authority (FTA) is the institutional procedure in the Unites States whereby Congress grants to the President the power to negotiate international trade agreements. Under FTA, Congress can only approve or reject negotiated trade deals, with no possibility of amending them. In this paper, we examine the determinants of FTA voting decisions and the implications of this institutional procedure for trade negotiations. We describe a simple two-country trade model, in which industries are unevenly distributed across constituencies. In the foreign country, trade negotiating authority is delegated to the executive, while in the home country Congress can retain the power to amend trade agreements. We show that legislators' FTA voting behavior depends on the trade policy interests of their own constituencies as well as those of the majority of Congress. Empirical analysis of the determinants of all FTA votes between 1974 (when fast track was first introduced) and 2002 (when it was last granted) provides strong support for the predictions of our model.
Keywords: Fast Track Authority, Trade Negotiations, Strategic Delegation
JEL Classification: D72, F13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation