Congressional Vote on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) May Be 2016

The U.S. and its 11 negotiating partners – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – reached preliminary agreement on October 5, 2015, on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would result in the world’s largest free-trade area, with a combined GDP of $27 trillion, equaling almost 40 percent of the global economy.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement on Thursday, November 5.  The text consists of 30 substantive chapters covering a broad range of trade issues, TPP’s primary impact will be reduction in tariffs and other trade barriers.

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA or “Fast Track”) requires the president, at least 90 days before signing an agreement, to notify Congress of his intent to do so.  The President notified Congress on November 5, 2015, just hours after the release of the full text of the agreement.

But a congressional vote on TPP may not take place until late 2016.  Different constituencies have lined up to criticize the Agreement as failing to adequately address the needs of workers and protect human rights, specifically with respect to the labor chapter, the automotive rules of origin, currency manipulation and government procurement.  Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a trade advocate, on Friday (Nov. 6) expressed doubt that Congress will take up legislation to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the Obama administration and argued that a future Republican administration would renegotiate to obtain a better deal on intellectual property protections for drugs.

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