TPP News from Crista Huff

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[Crista Huff| August 26, 2016 | Good Fellow]

TAIWAN PLANS TO APPLY TO JOIN THE TPP — On August 23 Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen told U.S. Congressmen Robert Pittenger andRandy Hultgren that his country intends to apply to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement when the second round of negotiations commence.

The TPP is a docking agreement. After the current 12 partner countries ratify the TPP within their legislatures, other countries may apply to join the trade agreement. As I mentioned in my August 16 news update (see story: “Human Rights Abuses Among Prospective TPP Partner Countries”), China is likely to apply to join the TPP. South Korea has also expressed interest in becoming a TPP partner country, as have the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. 

SEN. TOOMEY OPPOSES TPP — Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), under pressure from his Democratic opponent in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race, has announced that he opposes the TPP. (See Toomey’s August 17 op-ed in thePittsburgh Post-Gazette.) The Senator has historically favored and promoted free trade agreements. In the case of the TPP, he cited problems with pharmaceuticals, dairy, and IP as his source of opposition — as opposed to citing the sovereignty giveaway, human rights abuses, the unwieldy nature of a 5,544-page trade agreement, chronic unfair trade practices with Asian countries, the economics of past trade agreements, or the TPP being President Obama’s legacy legislation. 

REP. COSTA’S REELECTION MAY HINGE ON TPP STANCE — Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) is facing pressure from Democrat voters for his pro-Fast Track vote in 2015, and his neutral stance on the TPP. Costa is a member of the House Agriculture Committee, and the ag industry is the number one industry proponent of the TPP. It makes sense that the guy will vote “YES” on the TPP, but that he can’t reveal that stance during an election year.

Some local union workers, including the Communication Workers of America, are backing Costa’s Republican challenger, in obvious frustration over Costa’s indecision on the TPP.

The TPP was a major issue in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) primary race this year, although he handily beat his relatively-unknown opponent. Rep. Steve Forbes (R-VA) lost his 2016 primary race, after his opponent successfully used Forbes’ pro-trade and pro-Fast Track stances against him. 

NO TPP VOTE IN 2016? — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated on August 25 that the TPP ratification vote “will not be acted upon this year.” While that may be the case, the TPP is President Obama’s legacy legislation. At the minimum, a power struggle will likely continue over the timing of the vote, which will take place at some point between November 2016 and December 2017. (Congress cannot simply ignore the TPP, because the other eleven partner countries are awaiting the U.S. vote.)


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