What are (1) the goals that the United States is trying to achieve through the TPP agreement, and why has this negotiation has become the cornerstone of U.S. trade policy? (2) the current state of TPP negotiations as they reach their final critical stage? (3) the influence of U.S. domestic politics on U.S. trade policy, especially as it impinges on the ability to renew “Trade Promotion Authority” and pave the way for the ratification of the completed TPP deal?
After three years, the TPP talks have reached their most critical stage and U.S. leadership will be required to bring these negotiations to a fruitful conclusion. The TPP project has garnered a lot of attention for its no-exclusion mantra and its aim to tackle non-tariff barriers in uncharted areas. However, negotiating new rules on areas such as state-owned enterprises and intellectual property (to name a few) has not been easy and substantial gaps in the negotiating positions of participating countries persist. Moreover, the final shape of the market access commitments is unknown yet, and the TPP negotiations are now confronted with a critical issue: will some minimal exclusions be tolerated to give governments the necessary flexibility to appease domestic political pressures, and if so, can this be done without going down a slippery slope that compromises the level of ambition of the agreement? Finally, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has undertaken the negotiation of a very complex trade agreement without enjoying Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), and the Obama administration is hard pressed to renew it to move forward the negotiations and to facilitate the process of Congressional ratification down the road.
About the author Mireya Solís is a senior fellow and the Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies at the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies, as well as an associate professor at American University. An expert in Japan’s foreign economic policies, Solís earned a Ph.D. in government and an M.A. in East Asian studies from Harvard University, and a B.A. in international relations from El Colegio de México. Her main research interests include Japanese politics, political economy and foreign policy; international and comparative political economy; international relations; and government-business relations. She also has interests in broader issues in U.S.-Japan relations and East Asian multilateralism.