Trans-Pacific Partnership to be signed on February 4

By Shannon Togawa Mercer

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be signed in New Zealand this week, marking the end of a long and complicated negotiation process. After signing, each party has up to two years to complete their respective domestic ratification processes. In the political climate leading up to this year’s Presidential elections, the conditions of ratification are uncertain. Some high-level support for the free trade agreement has recently come down the pipeline. Most notably, President Obama implored U.S. legislators to ratify the TPP in his last state of the union address. Underscoring the potential for TPP to open markets to America, he said, “With TPP, China does not set the rules in that region. We do. You want to show our strength in this new century? Approve this agreement…It’s the right thing to do.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also come out in support of the agreement, citing World Bank statistics predicting that the FTA will increase each members’ GDP by 1.1% by 2030. Despite these two important endorsements, many do not see the TPP in a favorable light. Democratic Presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been vocally opposed to treaty. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that the vote wait until after November’s general election. Despite the signing this week, the TPP is still staring down a long road of domestic debate.