After more than five years of negotiations, and five straight days of sessions in Atlanta last week and through the weekend, the United States and the 11 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) reached an agreement on the landmark trade deal slated to affect 40 percent of the global economy.
Before the deal can be finally formalized, it still faces further debate in Congress, legal review, translation and verification of the text, which could take several months more. American citizens will also have an opportunity to read over the deal in its entirety once it’s made public, which could happen in a month’s time.
Agreeing on previous disputes like open markets for dairy trade, intellectual property protection for drugs and tariffs on car manufacturing were still the sticking points that kept ministers talking and pushed the previously promised Sunday announcement of the deal back.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said in a statement Monday, though, that the ministers had come to an agreement that achieves the goals they had set forth and that will benefit their respective nation’s citizens.
“We expect this historic agreement to promote economic growth, support higher-paying jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and to promote transparency, good governance, and strong labor and environmental protections,” the joint ministers’ statement noted.
For President Obama, TPP could be his legacy-making move and the pinnacle of his efforts to boost Made in America exports.
In a statement Monday, the president said the partnership levels the playing field for American manufacturers, farmers and ranchers by eliminating upwards of 18,000 taxes on U.S. goods. It also includes enforceable labor and environmental commitments to elevate conditions among the agreement’s trading partners (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam).
And with Asia projected to be one of the world’s most vital economies, TPP strengthens U.S. relationships and the nation’s position there.
“When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy,” President Obama said Monday. “We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment.”
In 2014, the U.S. exported $727 billion worth of goods to TPP countries, manufacturing exports totaled $638 billion, and companies headquartered in TPP nations employed 1.5 million American workers, according to a recent USTR report. More than $1.9 billion in goods leave the U.S. bound for TPP nations every day.
TPP puts American workers first and middle-class families will get ahead because of it, the president said.
The agreement will now move into review phase—likely garnering what the New York Times called “stiff opposition” as those against the agreement claim it favors big business over workers and the environment, and that it will send jobs abroad instead of increasing them.
“I look forward to working with lawmakers from both parties as they consider this agreement,” Obama said. “If we can get this agreement to my desk, then we can help our businesses sell more Made in America goods and services around the world, and we can help more American workers compete and win.”