February 16, 2016

Trade Bills Status

Gardner Peckham, John Schmitz, Keith Smith

Congressional implementation of the recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is near the top of President Obama’s priorities on Capitol Hill this year but the agreement faces strong headwinds from both political parties. Not one presidential candidate of either party polling in double digits supports TPP and endorsements from the business community have been slow in coming, heavily conditioned, and tepid, at best. Republican leaders in both chambers have been reticent overall, and in some cases hostile to various provisions in the agreement including constraints on biologics data exclusivity for the pharmaceutical industry, limited market access for US agricultural products and automobiles, and the exemption of tobacco products from the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision, to name a few.

Meanwhile, efforts to accelerate the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the US and EU are ongoing but few believe they will conclude by the end of the Obama Administration, unless the regulatory aspects of those agreements – the most ambitious and potentially valuable – are scaled back significantly. Ultimately, this ambitious effort could still bridge regulatory divides among trading partners comprising two thirds of the world’s economy and half of global international trade and establish a new paradigm for rules governing world trade, but that is unlikely to occur until the next Administration.