How do we know whether or not the Trans-Pacific Partnership reflects American interests? The text of the deal has been available for public scrutiny since November, but who has the time or wherewithal to sift through over 5,000 pages of trade legalese?
Fortunately, there’s a shortcut. The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015—better known as Trade Promotion Authority—requires the president to seek advice from a number of trade “Advisory Committees,” representing everyone from big labor unions and environmental groups to farmers and financial service providers. These committees were comprised of nearly 700 cleared advisers, and were obligated to issue reports no later than 30 days after the president notified Congress of his intent to sign the deal.
Well, last month, these reports were finally released, and they provide perhaps the clearest view of what the deal will mean for a broad variety of US interests. So if, for instance, you’re curious about what the deal does for ecommerce, or if you want to know what The Boeing Company thinks about the TPP, I’d steer you to the reports here. In the meantime, I’ve picked out some highlights that show what select sectors really think:
US AgricultureAccording to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, the US agricultural sector will be among the biggest beneficiaries of the TPP. Immediately upon implementation, 70 percent of agricultural tariff lines will go to zero in TPP countries. It’s important to note that the eleven markets of the TPP represent 82 percent of US food and farm exports. Notwithstanding these gains, the US agriculture sector was disappointed in market access for products in Japan (rice and dairy) and Canada (dairy and poultry).
US LaborThe TPP’s Labor Advisory Committee argues in the strongest possible terms to reject the TPP, citing its view that the deal will skew benefits to the economic elites while placing undue burdens on workers. The labor committee is especially concerned with TPP rules they say will enhance the power of global corporations, such as investor-state-dispute settlement, monopoly rights for pharmaceutical products, and further deregulation of financial services.
US Technology IndustryThe tech industry is supportive of the TPP, according to the Advisory Committee for Information and Communications Technologies, Services, and Electronic Commerce. This is largely because the TPP is the first trade agreement to incorporate provisions that assure the free flow of digital trade, while safeguarding privacy, cybersecurity, and intellectual property protections.
US Textiles and Apparel IndustryFor the Advisory Committee on Textiles and Clothing, the TPP is seen as a mixed bag. On one hand, TPP will reduce all tariffs on the first day of implementation. It also applies a rule of origin known as “yarn forward” which, with few exceptions, prevents producers from tapping into global supply chains outside the TPP. On the other hand, the remaining tariffs on the most significant apparel trade do have long phase-outs of 10-12 years. As a result, the Advisory Committee on Textiles and Clothing neither supports nor opposes the TPP.
US Environmental GroupsAccording to the Environmental Policy Advisory Committee, the TPP mostly did what Congress asked on the environment. Indeed, according to the report, the deal contains the most comprehensive environmental regulations of any international trade accord. A few examples include provisions on sustainable fisheries management, obligations regarding the taking and trading of wildlife, fishing, and logging, and commitments to conservation programs.
Obviously, these reports offer only a few snapshot perspectives, and more people and more industries will be affected by the TPP than those who had their say in these advisory committees. Nevertheless, they help to illuminate some central obstacles and opportunities within the TPP, and convey the complex nature of modern trade deals.