One month after concluding more than seven years of negotiations on the most significant trade agreement in a quarter century, the United States and the 11 other nations that comprise the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have released the full text of the agreement to the public. The TPP, whose members account for approximately 40 percent of world economic output, will lower barriers to trade on a wide array products ranging from to textiles to automobiles to financial services. Under the “fast-track” trade promotion authority legislation enacted last summer, the release of the full text triggers a 90-day review period that must be completed before President Obama can sign the agreement. Once he does so, both houses of Congress will have an opportunity to hold an up or down vote on the deal without offering any amendments or subjecting it to a filibuster.
TPP negotiators in Bali, Indonesia. State Dept. photo by William Ng via Wikimedia Commons
The Obama administration insists that the TPP is the most progressive trade deal ever negotiated by the United States, with unprecedented mechanisms to enforce labor standards and environmental regulations. Critics, including the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club, contend that these protections do not go far enough. Others have raised concerns about the TPP’s intellectual property provisions, especially its highly restrictive approach to copyright law, as well as its potential impact on the cost of prescription medications in developing nations. Still others have questioned the constitutionality of the investor-state dispute settlement provision that would allow foreign investors to bypass the U.S. court system and have claims against the U.S. government resolved through arbitration.
Due to the closed-door nature of the negotiations, these widely aired criticisms are based largely on informed speculation stemming from leaked drafts of the agreement. Now that the final text has been made public, both supporters and critics of the TPP will spend the next few months scrutinizing its more than 6,000 pages to determine whether the agreement meets or falls short of their expectations.
To keep the GULC community abreast of the latest news and developments concerning the TPP and other trade-related topics, the Law Library subscribes to several specialized databases, including BNA’s International Trade Reporter and International Trade Daily, as well as World Trade Online. For more information about trade agreements and foreign trade regulation, consult the library’s online Research Guide to International Trade Law.