The United States is closing in on its first major free trade deal in years. Controversy and speculation have followed the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for months, but soon both lawmakers and voters will have a chance to see the treaty for the first time. Negotiators struck a final pact on Monday after more than five years of work.
Many questions still remain about the substance of the deal, the likely fight over it in Congress, and its impact on the world if adopted. Here are five we can answer:
What happens now?
The text of the deal must be public for at least 60 days before Congress renders a verdict, and it cannot begin to debate the deal formally until the text has been out for at least 30 days. Lawmakers forced these transparency concessions as part of the legislation granting Obama Trade Promotion Authority, commonly referred to as fast-track.
President Obama struggled to win support for fast-track, which has been a staple of trade negotiations since the 1970s, as the left flank of the Democratic caucus blanched. Many liberals have long opposed the deal on the grounds that free trade agreements historically harm U.S. workers and fail to deliver the exports boost promised by supporters. Members across the ideological spectrum have criticized the TPP’s system of international tribunals to resolve disputes, worrying that the tribunals could circumvent the constitutional court system and allow multinational corporations to override U.S. policies that harm their profits. And internet freedom groups warn the treaty will allow corporations and totalitarian governments alike to restrict free speech online in subtle, irreversible ways.More ...