The announcement earlier this week that the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries approved a historic trade pact is big news.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), promises to lower or eliminate tariffs on thousands of products and services that are currently traded among participating countries. Among the major U.S. industry sectors affected are pharmaceuticals, seafood, dairy and auto parts.
But many months of politicking, discussions, debate and scrutiny lie ahead before Congress even votes on the TPP.
The TPP has been negotiated over the past decade in dozens of sessions around the Pacific. The most critical and far-reaching components include tariff reductions, uniform intellectual property rules, further opening of the Internet, fair labor standards, dispute-settlement practices, and environmental protection. These proposed changes should ease trade barriers and lower costs for U.S. exporters.
On the flip side, many politicians and industry leaders are concerned about the impact of TPP on labor, jobs, access to inexpensive medicine, and more.
The full transcript of the TPP, including 30 chapters and thousands of pages, has not yet been made available to the public or to Congress. And the details of TPP will be critically important. Release of the full text this fall will signal the start of a thorough review of TPP by industry experts and politicians during the next five to six months. Revisions are likely.
TPP will eventually be brought to a vote in Congress by spring of 2016 at the earliest. Because Trade Promotion Authority legislation (TPA), also called “Fast Track,” was approved by Congress this past summer, the TPP vote will be a simple Yes or No, with no amendments permitted.
Why is TPP an important issue in Massachusetts? Three of our top five export markets—Canada, Mexico and Japan—are TPP participants. And Singapore, Australia and Malaysia, also TPP participants, are on the top 25 export destination list. Easing barriers and reducing costs for trade with these key markets will benefit Massachusetts companies. Expect to hear from the Bay State’s industry leaders in pharma, seafood, agricultural products, services and footwear about how they will be affected by TPP.
And the state’s U.S. Congressional Delegation will certainly weigh in on the massive trade pact.
Employers will be able to learn more about TPP at the Massachusetts Export Center’s Export Expo on December 11, when several U.S. government trade experts from Washington DC will be in Boston to share their insights with the international community. AIM is co-sponsoring the Export Expo.
As proof that TPP is top-of-mind this week, and not just “inside the Beltway,” check out this brief video clip from last Sunday’s popular TV series “Madame Secretary,” which features a musical skit at a hypothetical state dinner in Washington DC for representatives of all twelve TPP countries: