Negotiators from the United States and 11 other nations reached an agreement on the largest regional trade agreement in history, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP countries (United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam) represent 40% of the world’s economy and 42% of U.S. agricultural exports.
In a joint statement the trade ministers from the TPP countries said, “After more than five years of intensive negotiations, we have come to an agreement that will support jobs, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development, and promote innovation across the Asia-Pacific region. The agreement achieves the goal we set forth of an ambitious, comprehensive, high standard and balanced agreement that will benefit our nations’ citizens.”
President Barack Obama said, “This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products. It includes the strongest commitments on labor and the environment of any trade agreement in history, and those commitments are enforceable, unlike in past agreements. It promotes a free and open internet. It strengthens our strategic relationships with our partners and allies in a region that will be vital to the 21st century. It’s an agreement that puts American workers first and will help middle-class families get ahead.”
The text of the agreement had not been released but we can expect details to be made public over the next few days. Next steps: President Obama may not sign the agreement until 90 days after he notifies Congress that he intends to sign it. Additionally, the president has to make the entire text of the agreement public at least 60 days before he signs it. Congress is expected to vote on the agreement early next year.