Where We Are with the Trans-Pacific Partnership

September 26, 2016
By Danielle Leonard

Earth with items we trade around it

Since the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was first made public, it has been met with both positive and negative outlooks. On one side, there are those who still fear the effect it will have on the current American workforce. On the other, many see great economic and geopolitical benefits in joining this partnership. Since both presidential candidates oppose the TPP, there is tension to get the agreement passed sooner than later.

Push Towards Positivity for TPP

Recently, there has been a push from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Obama Administration, and industry groups such as, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, U.S. Fashion Industry Association, and National Retail Federation to gain support for the TPP. In May, President Obama described what will happen if the TPP is not passed stating, “American goods will continue to face high tariffs and other trade barriers in the region.” He went on to say that American businesses will lose competitive access to Asian markets and that we should be at the forefront creating global trade rules with our partners, not on the sidelines. Likewise, the USTR has been actively promoting the agreement with social media campaigns, while U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman continues to encourage support through multiple speaking engagements. On September 20, Froman tweeted on how he had a “great meeting today on the importance of free trade with former President George W. Bush.” The Bush Center also tweeted a quote from Froman, which said, “why TPP? Because the U.S. needs to define the rules of the global economy that reflects our values.” These are just a few examples of the many ways the USTR is backing the TPP.

Recent Progress

On August 12, the Obama Administration submitted a draft statement of administrative action to Congress. The statement represents the administration’s interpretation of the TPP and describes what actions we will take as a country to perform our obligations under the agreement. This shows some movement forward, even though it has been over 30 days since the draft statement was submitted and Congress has yet to make a decision. More progress was made September 20, at the International Bar Association conference, where Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman spoke on how officials are still working to resolve lawmakers’ concerns about TPP’s provisions for expanding certain intellectual property rights related to regulatory approval of biologic drugs. They are hoping that enough support will be built to approve the pact before the end of 2016.

There are still those who are apprehensive about the TPP but there are also many who see a possibility of the agreement being passed by the end of the year. Hopefully, there will be more updates as we move closer to the end of 2016.

Download PDF