World Economy

TPP Passes Crucial Test in Japan

TPP Passes Crucial Test in JapanTPP Passes Crucial Test in Japan

Now that the US Congress has voted to give President Barack Obama “fast track” authority, it seems likely that negotiations to wrap up the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) should move quickly, in a matter of weeks rather than months.

Japan’s Economics Minister, Akio Amari, predicted that broad agreement could be reached by the end of July. Dragging things out further would cause the complicated deal to become embroiled in partisan politics, especially the looming president election next year in the US, World Bulletin reported.

Most of the participating nations were forced into a wait-and-see posture while the Americans wrestled through most of June with the politics of the deal. At one time, it seemed all was lost as the House of Representatives voted by a huge margin to deny Obama Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

More generally known as fast-track authority, TPA allows the president to negotiate a trade agreement and then submit it to Congress for a straight up and down vote with no amendments allowed. It is generally considered essential to any agreement.

June provided many nail-biting moments for TPP proponents until the lower house reversed itself and the Senate voted 60-38 to approve it. Once the deal is signed, the president has 90 days to submit the agreement to Congress where a simple majority is all that’s needed for passage.

While the TPP covers 12 nations on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, negotiations between Japan and the US were considered the key. The main barriers to a deal were the traditional trade roadblocks: agriculture for Japan and automobile parts for the US.