Long-awaited details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are finally out with the release yesterday of the complete text of the comprehensive international trade deal between the United States and the 11 other Pacific Rim countries.
Negotiations on the TPP have been ongoing for over five years and the resulting pact reached last month is the largest and most complex plurilateral free trade agreement ever undertaken by the United States; one that lowers or eliminates tariffs on everything from imported Japanese cars to New Zealand cheese, while opening two-fifths of the global economy to easier trade in services and electronic commerce.
A statement issued by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman describes the TPP as “a high standard agreement which supports more well-paying American jobs, strengthens our middle class, and advances both our interests and our values abroad.” The deal “will position Americans to compete and win in tomorrow’s global economy,” Froman says, noting that the TPP is the first trade deal “to take on the digital economy” and also the first “to put a real focus on American small businesses who will gain powerful tools to help them export.”
In addition to the full text and summaries of all 30 chapters in a user-friendly format, the USTR also issued a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” about the TPP seeking to dispel some of the “myths” purported by critics about areas of concern such as environmental impacts, the controversial investor-state dispute resolution mechanism and labour standards in some of the less developed TPP countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam.
Lastly, Tim Reif, the USTR’s Chief Transparency Officer set out the roadmap for the TPP process going forward, as mandated by the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, which consists of the following:
- 90 Days for Public and Congressional Review Prior to the President Signing the Agreement: While TPA requires the full text of the agreement to be publicly available for 60 days before the President signs the agreement, we have now taken the additional step of committing to have the text publicly available for longer than required—a full 90 days—before the President signs TPP.
- Additional Resource for Analysis and Review: Once the President signs TPP, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the potential economic impact of TPP that will also be made available to the public.
- Submitting Legislative Text: In advance of Congressional consideration, the Administration will submit draft legislative text to Congress that would implement the agreement, if passed by both houses of Congress. The legislative clock for consideration will not begin until the Administration sends final legislative text to Capitol Hill.
- Congressional Consideration: After legislation is submitted, per the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, the House of Representatives and the Senate each have a certain number of legislative days to consider the legislation in the committees of jurisdiction and on the floors of each chamber.
- Presidential Notification: If both houses of Congress pass the TPP implementation bill, the President then is empowered to sign the implementing legislation into law. The President will notify Congress in writing 30 days in advance of the agreement taking effect with respect to each of the 11 other TPP countries, once the President determines that each meets its obligations under TPP.
Now that the TPP’s details have finally been released, supporters and critics can be expected to vigorously battle in the coming months over the deal’s sweeping provisions to determine whether it has the needed political support to win congressional approval in the United States and also be ratified by the legislatures of the other participating countries.