U.S., Asia-Pacific allies near final Trans-Pacific Partnership deal

A final draft of the TPP could be very near
(Image credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Trade negotiators from the U.S. and 11 Asia-Pacific countries said late Sunday that they are optimistic they'll be able to announce a final Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Monday, after almost eight years of negotiations. The trade officials, meeting in Atlanta, had suggested earlier that a deal could be announced on Sunday, but ongoing haggling over drug patents, dairy exports, and other issues held up a final agreement. If finalized and ratified by the signatory countries, the landmark TPP would open up trade and set commerce ground rules for 12 countries representing about 40 percent of the global economy.

Several breakthroughs had spurred hopes that this five-day meeting would seal the TPP deal, including a compromise between the U.S. and Australia over the exclusivity period for brand-name pharmaceutical firms to sell advanced biologic drugs — Peru and Chile are still concerned — but New Zealand is still pressing for greater access to foreign markets for its dairy products. Japan, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico reached tentative agreement on a deal governing the manufacture of automobile and auto parts.

If the deal is finalized, the fight begins to get it ratified in all 12 member nations, with one of the biggest question marks the U.S. Congress. President Obama faces skepticism from Democrats and allied labor and environmental groups, and while Republicans tend to support free trade deals, some have expressed concerns about provisions that help labor unions and shorter exclusivity periods for brand-name drugmakers. The 2016 presidential race is a wild card, and Congress won't vote on the deal until early next year, when the fights for each party's presidential nomination are in full swing.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.