The following is an excerpt from Carter Dougherty | October 5, 2015 | ibtimes.com |
ATLANTA -- Ending seven years of stop-and-start negotiations, officials from 12 Pacific Rim countries clinched Sunday a free-trade agreement that will allow two-fifths of the world’s goods and services to move more easily -- but not entirely freely -- across national borders. The pact, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, also poses a challenge to China, by creating rules for commerce on its doorstep that Asia’s fast-rising power played no role in writing.
Wrapping up six days of round-the-clock talks in an Atlanta hotel, negotiators hosted by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman hashed out their remaining differences on the politically fraught and exceedingly arcane issues of patent rules and dairy trade with a series of compromises to finalize the 30-chapter agreement.
The Atlanta result, though the product of painstaking, highly technical talks, came about thanks to domestic realities that emerged for the first time this year.
Signaling his commitment to the TPP, President Barack Obama persuaded the U.S. Congress to approve “fast-track” negotiating authority, which strengthens his hand in negotiations by ensuring lawmakers can’t amend the pact, only vote it up or down. The TPP is part of Obama’s rebalancing of U.S. foreign policy toward Asia, a goal since early in his presidency.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee, suggested that Froman had squandered a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to make a good deal, implying that Republicans could break with Obama on an issue that has previously been a rare point of agreement.
“While the details are still emerging, unfortunately I am afraid this deal appears to fall woefully short,” Hatch said.
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