The U.S. is formally part of the biggest global trade partnership in history after the countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership symbolically signed the deal in New Zealand. For President Obama, now comes the hard work.
Twelve countries bordering the Pacific Ocean negotiated for years to hammer out the TPP. Though the deal is expected to open up new markets for American agricultural exports, especially soybeans and beef, it remains controversial.
“There are some people suggesting the concessions that have been made in terms of access into the U.S. market will offset that,” said Julian Binfield, director of international programs at the University of Missouri. “Or some people would suggest that the deal didn’t as go far as some people would have liked.”
The battle now moves to Congress for approval, where the TPP has been met with opposition from both sides of the aisle. Legislators will ultimately vote to approve or reject the deal in the coming months.
While the 2016 presidential candidates have been making the TPP a talking point for their campaigns, the agreement remains a political issue. Democrats have chided the deal for putting big businesses first and sending jobs overseas. Some republicans say it’s a bad deal and want to move slowly through the details.
Binfield said the current thinking seems to be that progress on the deal will be made during the summer. “But a lot of people are suggesting that the final vote,” he said, “might be delayed until the lame duck session.”