U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said he was “confident” that Congress would approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but offered no firm timeline for the process, stating that officials were still involved with briefing stakeholders and working to finalize details of the text, including translating the agreement into the various languages of the countries involved.
“We’re going to work with the congressional leadership and the committee leadership on the precise timetable,” Froman told reporters in a conference call hosted last week by the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss the pact’s economic and national security benefits. “It’s too early to tell right now exactly what the pathway will be.”
Froman noted that Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) lays out a series of procedures and milestones that must be followed, such as providing notice at least 90 days before the agreement is signed and ensuring that it’s in the public for at least 60 days. Additionally, the TPA calls for a series of reports and legislative procedures the administration has to go through, meaning that the deal won’t be debated and voted on by Congress until the first quarter of next year at the earliest.
When queried about the implications for the U.S. should, for whatever reason, the TPP be rejected by Congress and end up not being implemented, Froman said:
The rest of the world is not standing still. Our competitors are not standing still. As we speak, other negotiations are going on for other approaches to the global trading system, more mercantilist approaches, more protectionist approaches, approaches that allow for forced transfer of technology or forced transfer of intellectual property, agreements that don’t have labor and environmental provisions or that don’t put disciplines on state-owned enterprises or that don’t maintain free and open Internet.
And, you know, that—living in that world is much more to the advantage of American workers, farmers, ranches, firms of all sizes, if we’re living in a world where TPP defines the rules of the road than if we’re sitting on the sidelines and those rules of the road are set by somebody else. And I think that will become very clear through this debate to members of Congress. And as a result, I’m confident we’ll ultimately have their support.
The wide-ranging discussion also dealt a number of questions, including: the TPP’s impact on the multilateral global trade environment and relations with China; related currency provisions being worked on by the Treasury Department; and the deal’s implementation, compliance and enforcement mechanisms, including the adjudication of trade disputes through measures such as the controversial investor-state resolution process.
Click here to read a transcript of the conference call and/or listen to it as an audio podcast.