This is big: A consortium of negotiators from a dozen Pacific countries agreed to the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) in Atlanta this morning. Bloomberg has the details:
The agreement will provide duty-free trade on most goods, and reduced tariffs on others. It will also provide mutual recognition of many regulations, including an exclusivity period for biologic drugs, which are derived from living organisms, and patent protection for pharmaceuticals. That was one of the final topics that was settled in marathon talks, as developing nations sought to have quicker access to generic medications […]
China was left out of the agreement, which supporters promoted as a counterweight to its growing influence […]
If implemented, it would be the largest trade deal the U.S. has negotiated since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994. The three signatories to that agreement, the U.S., Canada and Mexico, are included in this one, as is Japan.
President Obama is expected to have an easy time getting the deal through Congress after a bipartisan bill to fast-track TTP was passed in June. The trade agreement is a big loss for unions, which fought it tooth and nail, and it will continue to create headaches for Hillary Clinton, whose advisors have reportedly told donors they wish the deal would “go away.” Senator Bernie Sanders strongly opposes the deal, and has been pressing Clinton to take a position on it.
But domestic politics aside, the TTP is a major victory for the Obama Administration and should prove to be a win for the U.S. in the medium to long term. Although the deal is surely imperfect, more and freer trade is in general a good thing. And if it also frustrates Beijing’s efforts to increase its power in the region—well, that’s just icing on the cake.