November 30, 2021

Volume XI, Number 334

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November 29, 2021

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Keeping TPP Hopes Alive: Trans-Pacific Partnership

Last week’s House vote on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which passed 219-211, was no doubt confusing to many of our trading partners.  While a majority of the House supported TPA, as a majority of the Senate had last month, the TPA bill is politically and procedurally linked to another bill that would assist workers harmed by trade.   Democratic opposition to the worker assistance bill, which was resoundingly defeated 126-302, was even more confusing to our trade partners since, in the Senate, this bill was a precondition for Democratic support for TPA.

Since a majority in both the House and the Senate have now voted for TPA, there is hope that the White House and Congressional leaders can figure out a way to get TPA to the President’s desk while assuring passage also of the workers assistance bill.  An agreement by House leadership today will allow TPA to be considered separately in the House this week while committing to pass the worker assistance bill separately.

TPA’s passage is critical to achieving the Administration’s goal of completing negotiations on a trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The twelve countries involved in TPP negotiations have patiently waited for the President to secure TPA so they could reach a final agreement with confidence that it would enjoy the procedural benefits of TPA, namely an expedited, up-or-down vote in the Congress.  Without TPA, it seems unlikely that our trading partners will be willing to put forward their best offers, let alone close the TPP agreement.  As with every trade negotiation, the most challenging issues facing TPP negotiators are left until the end.  The number of outstanding issues, however, are discreet enough that TPP negotiators believe they can close the agreement relatively soon after passage of TPA.

If the White House and Congressional leaders can find a path soon for TPA to be reconsidered and passed, our TPP trading partners will be patient a bit longer.  But without clarity and certainty, they may conclude that closing TPP will have to be left for the next President.

© 2021 Covington & Burling LLPNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 169
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About this Author

John Veroneau, Regulatory and public policy lawyer, Covington
Partner

John Veroneau is a Chambers’ ranked international trade lawyer and is a partner in the International Trade Practice Group. Having served in senior positions in both Executive and Legislative branches, he provides legal and strategic advice to clients on a broad range of international trade and other public policy matters.

202.662.5034
Gina Vetere, Regulatory and public policy lawyer, Covington
Of Counsel

Gina Vetere provides legal and strategic advice to clients on international trade and global policy matters. Ms. Vetere counsels clients on the negotiation, implementation and enforcement of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, including in the areas of intellectual property, market access, regulatory trade barriers, online commerce, competition, and investment.

Ms. Vetere joined Covington after serving as executive director for international IP at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), where she led industry efforts to...

202.662.5647
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