TPP signed, but Hatch says no vote imminent
Trade Representative Michael Froman participated with other trade ministers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries in a signing ceremony in New Zealand on Wednesday, but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that does not mean Congress will take it up soon.
In a joint statement, the ministers said, “We the ministers representing Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam, are pleased to announce that we have today signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement …
“TPP will set a new standard for trade and investment in one of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic regions. We signatories comprise nearly 40 percent of global GDP, a market of more than 800 million people, and around one third of world trade …
“Our focus now turns to the completion of our respective domestic processes.”
Hatch has been an advocate of free trade, but he has been critical of some aspects of the final TPP deal.
“No one should be under any illusions that, because the TPP is being signed today, an up or down vote on the agreement is imminent or that our oversight responsibilities are at an end,” Hatch said in a speech on the Senate floor.
“If history has taught us anything, it’s that this process can, and often does, take a very long time to complete. In fact, it’s not an exaggeration — or even all that remarkable — to say that it can take years to get an agreement through Congress after it is signed.”
Hatch went on to promise to continue a thorough evaluation of the trade agreement, saying there is a long history of rigorous congressional review despite his shared goal of enacting a strong trade agreement as soon as possible.
“I’m quite certain the president wants to get a strong TPP agreement passed as soon as possible. I share that goal,” Hatch continued.
“But, Congress has a history of taking the time necessary to consider and pass trade agreements, and the process set out under TPA demands that we do so. Despite a number of claims to the contrary, Congress does not rubber stamp trade agreements and we will not do so in this case.”
–The Hagstrom Report
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