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Intel Supports Obama's Push for Trade Authorization

The chip maker says Congress enabling the president to fast-track trade deals would be good for U.S. businesses doing business overseas.

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Intel executives are throwing their support behind President Obama's push for the Republican-controlled Congress to enable him to accelerate overseas trade negotiations.

Obama called for the authority during his State of the Union address Jan. 20, saying it was important to get agreements in place and allow more U.S. products to be sold in other countries. He admitted that some past trade agreements had not worked out in the United States' favor. However, the president noted that "95 percent of the world's customers live outside our borders. We can't close ourselves off from those opportunities."

In a post on the company blog the same day, Lisa Malloy, director of policy communications for Intel, said the world's largest chip maker supported Obama's request for trade promotion authority (TPA) from Congress. She noted that more than three-quarters of Intel's revenues come from sales to customers outside of the United States, while about three-quarters of the company's chip manufacturing and R&D is done in the country.

Malloy also wrote that improved trade overseas would help Intel's more than 16,000 worldwide suppliers, more than 7,300 of which are based in the United States.

"Intel strongly supports robust free trade agreements which open up foreign markets and level the playing field so that American businesses can keep growing," Malloy said. "U.S. economic growth continues to depend on trade with markets around the globe, and we need TPA and future agreements to succeed in today's digital economy."

Passing legislation that would give Obama the authority to fast-track negotiations would mean that Congress would only be able to vote yes or no on the deal, rather than being able to add amendments. In addition, lawmakers would not be able to see what the deal entails until after they pass the TPA legislation.

Obama is expected to get resistance from Democratic lawmakers as well as labor leaders and environmental groups, who are concerned that such pacts as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement with a dozen Asia-Pacific countries would result in lost jobs in the United States. They also say the agreement is being negotiated in secret.