The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal faces a major hurdle Wednesday when leaders from 12 different countries will reconvene to try to finalize the deal, which has been five years in the making, according to The Financial Times.
The Financial Times’ Shawn Donnan described the trade deal as President Obama’s “most important economic legacy project.”
Congress granted Obama fast-track trade authority under the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) earlier this summer, which gives Congress only an up or down vote on the trade deal, rather than the ability to offer any amendments.
Congress hasn’t stopped a trade deal in the past 40 years.
Several of the GOP presidential candidates opposed granting Obama fast track trade authority including: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
A large issue raised about the pending trade deal is its secrecy. For example, in order to read the trade deal, members of Congress have to go to a secured room on Capitol Hill without staff and cannot take any notes.
The list of members of Congress who actually go in and read the deal, which is several hundreds of pages, are also not available to the public or the press.
The TPP represents “40 percent of the global economy” and involves 12 countries, according to the Financial Times.
The country leaders were unable to reach a final agreement during the last meeting in Hawaii during July. Donnan describes the upcoming meeting as “a marathon final session of negotiations.”
“The immediate goal this time is to get an agreement before an October 19 election in Canada which polls now put in a three-way tie and stands a good chance of leading to a change of government.”
Donnan predicts that if the parties fail to finalize the deal in Atlanta, the deal will sit on the sidelines until the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in the Philippines this November. However, Donnan reported that after the July meeting failed to yield a finalized deal, the TPP countries felt that time was running out.
“For them, not wrapping up the negotiations in Atlanta would represent a major blow to the project’s overall credibility,” stated Donnan.
Donnan reported that sources have suggested three issues remain unsettled:
“According to negotiators just three significant issues remain: a stand-off between Japan and the US, Canada and Mexico over the “rules of origin” covering cars and car parts, or what percentage of them should be made in TPP countries to qualify for its benefits; the question of how much Canada, Japan and other countries should open up their protected dairy markets; and just how long new drugs known as “biologics” should enjoy patent and other intellectual property protections.”
Donnan noted that Progress has been made on the issues in the recent weeks.