BY: JONATHAN WEISMAN| 07/06/2015 | Source: The New York Times
WASHINGTON — With a final accord in sight, the 12 nations negotiating a trans-Pacific trade agreement linking 40 percent of the global economy have set a last round of talks for late July on the remaining issues on the most ambitious trade deal in a generation.
Outstanding controversies include access to Canada’s agriculture market, Australian concerns over American pharmaceutical patent rules, Peru’s rain forest management, Chinese components in Vietnamese textile exports and labor organizing rights in Vietnam and Mexico. The dispute over access to Canada’s protected dairy and poultry markets is so fierce that some participants say they believe Canada could drop out of the talks.
But the prize remains a massive trade zone stretching from Canada and Chile to Australia and Japan. It would be a legacy-defining achievement for President Obama, who showed last month he was willing to forsake most of his party to achieve it. Mr. Obama was able to persuade only 41 of Congress’s 234 Democrats to vote to give him expanded trade-negotiating powers — or trade promotion authority — and Democrats now want him to make good on producing a deal more of them can support.
“They have a decision to make: Do they want to achieve broader bipartisan support than they got for T.P.A. or don’t they?” asked Representative Sander Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee and an observer at the talks.
United States officials feel confident enough a deal is at hand that they have scheduled a meeting among the chief negotiators at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Hawaii during the last four days in July and have notified Congress that they expect this to be the last one. Still, it will be some time before a deal is ratified. Under terms set by Congress in trade negotiating legislation last month, a July 31 agreement could not be signed until Oct. 31 or more likely the beginning of November. Congress cannot begin considering it until December.
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