Two Russian media outlets are reporting that Secretary of State John Kerry invited Russia and China to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade deal.
But the U.S. State Department told Breitbart News that the report is not true, “at this time.”
“Right now, we are focused on finalizing the current TPP agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries that just concluded negotiations,” a State Department official responded to Breitbart News’ inquiry about the Russian news reports.
“As the Secretary made clear, we welcome other countries who would like to join as long as they meet the high standards of TPP, but there are no talks with other countries on joining the TPP at this time,” the official said.
Russia Today – a government funded news outlet – recently reported that Kerry said, “We welcome China, Russia and other countries, who would like to join [the TPP], as long as they want to raise the standards and live up to [them] … doing business openly, transparently and accountably.”
Interfax – a Russian news outlet that is regarded as more credible – also reported that Kerry said both China and Russia are welcome to join the TPP if the countries raise their standards.
A spokesperson from the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) office told Breitbart News there’s no truth to any reports saying China and Russia had joined the TPP.
As of now, 12 countries are parties to the TPP. Congress granted President Obama and his administration fast-track trade authority under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) earlier this summer, allowing Congress to hold a quick up-or-down vote, perhaps after the 2016 elections.
A spokesperson from the USTR explained four steps must be taken for another country to join the TPP:
“The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill makes clear that that no new country can be added to the TPP without demonstrating the capacity and will to live up to the high standards embodied in TPP, followed by Congressional approval.
TPA requires close consultation with Congress on any new TPP members, including a 90 day notification before beginning a negotiation with any new country, and another 90 day notification before an agreement can be signed with any new party.
TPA also requires a vote by both houses of Congress before a potential new party could join TPP.
Finally, before considering entering into negotiations with any potential new TPP member, we would make an assessment of that country’s ability to meet the high standards of TPP, including on issues such as intellectual property rights, state-owned enterprises, and labor and environmental protections. We will also assess a country’s track record of compliance with past trade agreements, and its willingness to address outstanding bilateral trade issues.”
Congress is expected to consider approving the TPP sometime next year.