The Obama administration has finally released the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial deal that would knit together the economies of a dozen Pacific Rim nations. Now Obama just needs to win one more vote in Congress for the US to accept the agreement.
But while the Obama administration says that the deal will boost the US economy and boost America’s influence in Asia, critics have portrayed it as a package of giveaways to corporate interests. They’re mobilizing the deny Obama the congressional majority vote he needs to get the deal over the finish line. The fight over the TPP has pushed Obama and Republican leaders into an unusual alliance against congressional Democrats who vehemently oppose the deal.
As soon as the agreement was released, interest groups began flooding my inbox with press releases praising or attacking the deal. But Simon Lester, a trade policy expert at the Cato Institute, predicts that it could take a month for a full picture of the deal’s implications to emerge. “If you want to get an overall sense, you have to compare every product and every service.” And there are hundreds of provisions spread over 30 chapters, so that’s going to take a long time.
The TPP is a lot more than just a trade deal
The TPP is usually described as a trade deal, and it certainly will have important provisions related to trade. Negotiators have been considering liberalizing trade in cars and trucks, rice, dairy products, textiles, and a lot more.
But the agreement is also a lot more than a trade deal. It has more than two dozen chapters that cover everything from tariffs to the handling of international investment disputes. The reason these deals have gotten so complex is that people realized that they were a good vehicle for creating binding international agreements.