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Trade Commission Investigation Could Hold Up TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is trucking along—President Obama has notified Congress of his intent to sign it and the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has launched its investigation of the deal’s potential impact.

Because of the USITC’s timing of the investigation, however, signing of the trade agreement could see a setback, according to trade law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg.

President Obama notified Congress of his intent to enter into the TPP agreement on Nov. 5, which got the 90 countdown started for when the deal can be signed, meaning he was essentially expected to put his signature to paper on Feb. 3. The USITC said it isn’t expecting to transmit the report until May 18.

Now, the report could be concluded before that date, but with several months slated just for information gathering and a public hearing scheduled for Jan. 13 with interested parties allowed to submit post-hearing briefs and other statements until Feb. 15, it likely won’t be much sooner, if at all.

The USITC’s analysis generally includes a look at a free trade agreement’s economic impact and the report tends to be submitted to Congress concurrently with the implementing legislation.

According to STR, “The White House could therefore conceivably submit such a legislation before the ITC’s report is done, though lawmakers would undoubtedly wait to hold a final vote on it until they receive that report.”