THE HILL: New trade battle looms on the horizon

06/29/2015

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BY: Vicki Needham | 06/28/2015 6:00am | Source: The Hill

New trade battle looms on the horizon

President Obama’s prized fast-track authority is a done deal in Congress, but Washington is already steeling for the next major trade battle — this one over lawmakers’ approval of a sweeping Pacific Rim agreement.

Completion of talks in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could come as early as August, setting up a fall fight over ratification that is all but certain to spill into the 2016 presidential race.

Congress wrapped up the first phase of the trade fight this week, giving President Obama trade promotion authority, which strengthens his power to negotiate international deals and limits Congress’s sway over their contents.

Passage of the measure, a major win for Obama, has set off a race to complete the TPP, which would stretch from the Pacific Rim to Latin America.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman suggested this week that a deal could be ready this summer.

Akira Amari, Japan’s economy minister and New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser also said in recent days that they are aiming for completion by the August congressional recess, Reuters reported.

Even if the TPP is completed in next month or two it could take months to receive a final vote on Capitol Hill with several legislative clocks built into slowing the process.

A new trigger in the fast-track legislation gives the Obama administration 30 days to publicly release the text of the TPP. The agreement must undergo 60 days of public scrutiny before the president can sign the deal at the 90-day mark.

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