White House Announces Long-Awaited Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
The TPP would arguably be the largest free trade agreement in history when considering the economies of the 12 Pacific Rim member countries, covering approximately 40% of the global economy. The agreement must now be individually approved by each of the 12 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
If ratified, the TPP will be one of President Obama’s crowning achievements. Obama has championed the landmark agreement as a vehicle for opening new markets to American products and establishing higher labor and environmental standards, while building an economic bloc in the Asia-Pacific region to compete with China. (See the White House Fact Sheet here.)
Obama now has an uphill climb as he launches a major public relations campaign to sell the agreement to the American public. The debate will be contentious, with a bitterly divided Congress voting on the final agreement in early 2016 – well into the election year as presidential primary elections are taking place.
Under pressure from labor unions to oppose the deal, Democrats have largely withheld support. In early October, former Secretary of State, and current presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton came out against the deal which she once called the “gold standard” of trade agreements. Last spring, Obama relied on Republicans in Congress to pass the underlying fast-track trade authority bill, with only 28 Democrats in the House voting in favor of passage. Under fast-track authority, Congress can approve or reject the agreement, but not amend it.
Note: The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) posted the agreement in roughly two hundred separate PDF documents. The Washington Post promptly published a search function on their website for easier searching.
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