Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless (202)224-4515
Hatch Says TPP Must be Balanced, Hold Trading Partners Accountable & Meet Congressional Requirements
In a Speech on the Senate floor Utah Senator Says, “The United States only has one chance to negotiate, consider, and implement the TPP. We have to get it right.”
WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) questioned whether the Obama Administration closed a high-standard Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, citing initial reports that could be problematic for Congressional approval of the trade deal including issues with protections for intellectual property rights, market access for agriculture, product- and sector-specific carve-outs, as well as some potential overreaching on labor commitments.
“While we can’t make final determinations on any of these issues without seeing the final text of the agreement, initial indications are that these items could be problematic when the agreement is submitted to Congress for approval,” Hatch said.
Hatch went on to outline how TPP must meet the negotiating objectives established under bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
“In the end, Congress will need to take a good look at the entire agreement and judge whether the agreement satisfies the standards we put forward in our TPA law”, Hatch continued. “The congressional negotiating objectives that we included in the statute spell out in detail what must be included in a trade agreement in order for it to get Congress’s approval. The negotiating objectives we included in our TPA law aren’t just pro forma. They aren’t suggestions or mere statements of members’ preferences. They represent the view of the bipartisan majority in Congress as to the rights and obligations a trade agreement must contain when it is finalized and submitted for our consideration.”
The complete speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:
Mr. President, I rise today to talk about the recent developments in U.S. trade policy and their implications for the future.
Over this past weekend, officials from the Obama Administration, along with 11 other countries, reached what they believe will be the final agreement on the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.
If enacted, the TPP would be the largest trade agreement in history, encompassing roughly 40 percent of the world economy and setting standards in one of the most dynamic parts of the world: the Asia-Pacific.
I will repeat what I have said many times before: I believe a strong TPP agreement is essential for advancing our nation’s economic and strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region. However, while I’ve often touted the potential benefits of TPP, I’ve also been very clear that I won’t support just any TPP agreement.
The United States only has one chance to negotiate, consider, and implement the TPP. We have to get it right.
Under our system of government, both the executive and legislative branches play essential roles in developing and implementing our trade policies. While the administration has the power to reach agreements with other countries, no such agreement can go into force without Congress’s approval.
Congress is not just a rubber stamp in this process. We have an obligation to evaluate every trade agreement to determine if it advances our nation’s interests and serves the needs of our constituents.
Toward that end, as I continue to review the deal that was struck in Atlanta, three important considerations will determine whether I can support this agreement.
First, the deal must be balanced and meet the U.S. negotiating objectives established under our Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, statute, which Congress passed earlier this year with strong bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate.
Second, I must have confidence that our trading partners will actually live up to the commitments they’ve made under the agreement by implementing the terms and obligations included in the deal.
Third, the agreement must be subjected to a thorough and rigorous Congressional review, including in-depth consultation with the administration.
Before I talk about these factors in more detail, I do want to acknowledge the many years of hard work that officials in the administration – particularly those at Office of the U.S. Trade Representative – have put in to get the agreement this far. I particularly want to acknowledge the hard work of the lead negotiators at USTR, who have sacrificed for years to bring this agreement to conclusion. I also want to acknowledge that, over time, they made a great deal of progress on a variety of fronts.
But, now that the administration says it has reached an agreement, it’s time for Congress to intensify its review of TPP.
The primary standards by which I – and I would hope all of my colleagues – will judge this trade agreement are set forth clearly in our TPA statute. As one of the original authors of the current TPA law, I worked hard to ensure that it didn’t just represent my priorities for trade agreements, but those of a bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate.
The congressional negotiating objectives that we included in the statute spell out in detail what must be included in a trade agreement in order for it to get Congress’s approval.
The negotiating objectives we included in our TPA law aren’t just pro forma.
They aren’t suggestions or mere statements of members’ preferences.
They represent the view of the bipartisan majority in Congress as to the rights and obligations a trade agreement must contain when it is finalized and submitted for our consideration.
Now, I have to say that no one in Congress worked harder or longer than I did to get that TPA bill across the finish line. And, I was joined by many of my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – who put in significant time and effort as we drafted the bill, got it through committee, and passed it here on the floor. In fact, if you’ll recall, Mr. President, in the Senate, we ended up having to pass it twice.
And, since the day we passed the bill, I, as well as many of my colleagues in both the House and Senate, have been urging officials in the administration to do all they can to conclude a TPP agreement that a majority in Congress can support.
Unfortunately, when we look at some of the outcomes of the final round of negotiations, it’s not clear if the administration achieved that goal.
For example, it is not immediately apparent whether the agreement contains administrable and enforceable provisions to protect intellectual property rights, similar to those found in U.S. law. As you’ll recall, this was a key negotiating objective that we included in our TPA law and a necessary component if we want our trade agreements to advance our nation’s interests in a 21st Century economy.
I have serious concerns as to whether the administration did enough to accomplish this objective.
This is particularly true with the provisions that govern data exclusivity for biologics. As you know, biologics are drugs that are on the cutting edge of medicine and have transformed major elements of the healthcare landscape thanks, in large part, to the efforts and investments of American companies.
Now, I’m not one to argue that parties to a negotiation should refuse to compromise. In fact, I’ve come to the floor many times over the years and espoused – sometimes at great lengths – the merits of being able to find a compromise.
But – and this is an important point – a good compromise usually results in something of greater overall value for all the parties involved. And, at least according to the information now available, it is unclear whether this administration achieved that kind of outcome for American innovators.
Aside from biologics, there are other elements that, according to initial reports, may have fallen short of Congress’s negotiating standards. For example, there are issues with some of the market access provisions on agriculture, the inclusion of product- and sector-specific carve-outs from some of the obligations, as well as some potential overreaching on labor commitments.
While we can’t make final determinations on any of these issues without seeing the final text of the agreement, initial indications are that these items could be problematic when the agreement is submitted to Congress for approval.
In the end, Congress will need to take a good look at the entire agreement and judge whether the agreement satisfies the standards we put forward in our TPA law.
Beyond the negotiating objectives, we need to have confidence that key elements of a TPP agreement will be implemented and respected by our trading partners.
There are a number of important elements to consider when we talk about enforcement and implementation, but, for now, I’ll speak once again about intellectual property rights.
For too long – indeed, for decades now – American innovators and inventors haven’t been able to take full advantage of our trade agreements because, quite simply, many of our trading partners either refuse to enforce intellectual property obligations or fail to implement them altogether. And, all too often, this administration has looked the other way as other countries steal U.S. innovation and intellectual property.
If countries want to trade with the U.S., we should demand that they respect and enforce the intellectual property rights of American businesses and individuals. That means including strong provisions protecting intellectual property in our trade agreements and a requirement that intellectual property rights commitments be implemented before allowing the agreement to enter into force for our trading partners.
Unfortunately, implementation of these types of commitments is one area where this administration has come up short in the past. Before Congress can approve an agreement as vast as the TPP, we need to be sure that this has changed. We need to have detailed assurances that our trading partners will live up to all of their commitments and a clear roadmap as to how the administration intends to hold them accountable.
Finally, Mr. President, I expect that, pursuant to both the letter and spirit of TPA, the administration will communicate and work closely with Congress over the coming weeks and months. In the short-term, that means deep and meaningful consultations before the President signs the agreement.
Under our TPA law, the President must inform Congress of his intent to sign an agreement at least 90 days before doing so. This period is an essential part of congressional consideration of the deal. Congress reserved this time in the statute to ensure that we would have ample opportunity to review the content of a trade agreement before it is signed by the President.
In order for that review to take place, Congress must have access to the full text of the agreement, including annexes and any side agreements, before the President provides his 90-day notice.
This is a vital element of TPA, Mr. President. The law was designed specifically to give Congress all the necessary tools to conduct an exhaustive evaluation of any and all trade agreements and to ensure the administration is fully accountable both to Congress and to the public.
There are a number of provisions and timelines in the law that help us achieve these goals. I won’t list them all here on the floor today. Instead, I’ll just say that I expect the full cooperation of the administration in meeting all of these mandates.
The American people demand no less. There are no short-cuts.
Let’s be clear – our nation could clearly benefit from a strong TPP agreement, and I hope that, in the end, that’s what we get.
Unfortunately, I have real reservations as to whether the agreement reached over this past weekend meets the high-standards set by Congress. I won’t make a definitive statement on the overall merits of the agreement until I have a chance to review it in its entirety.
For now, I’ll just say that I’m worried.
I’m worried that we didn’t get as good a deal as we could have.
I’m worried that the Administration didn’t achieve a balanced outcome covering the Congressional negotiating objectives set out in TPA.
And, ultimately, I’m worried that there won’t be enough support in Congress for this agreement and that our country will end up missing out on important opportunities.
I hope I’m wrong, Mr. President.
I will closely scrutinize this agreement as details emerge. Before I can support the TPP deal struck in Atlanta, I must be convinced that the TPP is a balanced agreement that complies with the TPA law and that it has clear, implementable rules that our trading partners will follow.
The TPP is a once in a lifetime opportunity to define high-standard rules for the Asia-Pacific and to gain the real access to overseas markets that our businesses and workers need. I intend to do all I can to ensure that the agreement meets those goals.
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