Powerful interest groups are already lining up to oppose various provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the sweeping trade agreement reached Monday by the United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations — in hopes they can sway the votes of enough wavering lawmakers to have the deal rejected by Congress.
Negotiators announced completion of the the deal Monday morning and Congress isn’t expected to vote on it until the spring, due to the lengthy congressional review period that is required. Under the fast-track trade rules enacted earlier this year, the deal will be subject to an up or down vote in Congress and lawmakers will not be able to amend or filibuster the pact.
The lengthy time-frame for considering the trade pact ensures its opponents will have plenty of time to lobby Congress. Here’s a look at the industries and interest groups that are pushing back against parts of the agreement:
Their complaint: The deal does not address alleged currency manipulation by Japan, which the auto industry has long said hurts U.S. automakers by keeping the price of Japanese cars artificially low. A Ford spokeswoman said the company’s top priority was and is to include rules prohibiting currency manipulation in trade deals.
Earlier this year, the company supported a failed amendment sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) to the Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which gave the White House the ability to fast-track trade bills through Congress, that would have increased enforcement efforts against nations considered to be currency manipulators.
“To ensure the future competitiveness of American manufacturing, we recommend Congress not approve TPP in its current form, and ask the administration to renegotiate TPP and incorporate strong and enforceable currency rules,” Ford said in a statement.
Brand-name pharmaceutical companies
Their complaint: Pharmaceutical companies wanted the deal to include intellectual property protection for biologic medicines for 12 years, which is the length of time granted under U.S. law, but the pact only grants protection for up to eight years. PhRMA chief executive John Castellani said in a statement Monday that he is “disappointed,” but a spokesman for the leading pharmaceutical trade group said he could not elaborate on what steps the industry may take, if any, until they review the full text of the agreement.
Their complaint: The pact includes what’s called an investor-state dispute settlement provision, or ISDS, which is common in trade agreements. It allows multinational corporations and investors to bring cases against foreign governments over environmental, public health and other regulations — if they find that those rules cut into their profits — before international arbitration panels instead of U.S. courts.
Critics of the system say it favors companies because arbitrators are often corporate lawyers that side with businesses. The Sierra Club said Monday that TPP would “empower big polluters to challenge climate and environmental safeguards in private trade courts.” Friends of the Earth expressed a similar sentiment, saying the deal would “stymie environmental regulation.”
The tobacco industry
Their complaint: The deal includes changes that would exclude tobacco companies from accessing the ISDS system, meaning tobacco companies could have a harder time challenging anti-smoking regulations abroad. This could be an issue for lawmakers representing states that produce tobacco, such as North Carolina and Kentucky.
A spokesman for the cigarette giant Altria said the company is “opposed to singling out one industry for differential treatment under the TPP. We think singling out one industry for differential treatment is bad policy and could become a precedent for similar actions directed at other industries.” He declined to comment on whether the company will be engaging lawmakers on the issue.
Their complaint: Labor unions have argued that the negotiation process was not transparent and that TPP would encourage the outsourcing of U.S. jobs. “Many problematic concessions were made in order to finalize the deal,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement Monday. “Rushing through a bad deal will not bring economic stability to working families, nor will it bring confidence that our priorities count as much as those of global corporations.”