President Meets with TPP Leaders to Push Trade Deal

On Monday Nov. 10, President Barack Obama kicked off his weeklong trip to Asia aimed at strengthening U.S.-Asia trade and investment ties to spur America’s economic growth and job creation.

The President began his trip in Beijing, China, where he delivered remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting and the APEC CEO Summit, and held bilateral meetings with both Prime Minister Abbott of Australia and President Widodo of Indonesia.

President Obama also met with leaders of countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal–Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam.  In his remarks, the President noted that momentum was building around the TPP, emphasizing that the Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing, most populous, most dynamic region in the world economically. The President stated that strengthening American leadership in the Asia-Pacific was one of his “top foreign policy priorities,” and that the meeting was an opportunity at the political level to “break some remaining logjams.”

That same day, the leaders from the 12 TPP nations released a statement indicating that “significant progress” had been made in recent months which “sets the stage to bring these landmark TPP negotiations to a conclusion.” According to the TPP leaders, their negotiators have made concluding these talks a top priority so that businesses, workers, farmers and consumers can soon start reaping the benefits of the TPP agreement.

Previously, negotiations between the TPP countries had been stalled due to differences between the U.S. and Japan, two of the largest economies, over agricultural and auto products. However, progress has been made and recently released was the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Ministers’ Report to Leaders, which provides an overview of the areas where progress has been made such as in the development of the digital economy as well as other issues that remain: relating to intellectual property, state-owned enterprises, environment and investment.

Trade initiatives such as the TPP and the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) are areas where a Republican-led Congress and the President could find some common ground next year. However, some of those remaining difficult issues with the TPP pose a challenge to bridging the divide between Democrats on supporting the trade deal. Yet, many are optimistic a TPP trade pact can be reached early next year.