The AFR reports:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership suffered a serious setback to being implemented by the pact’s lead economy, after the powerful United States Senate leader stunned trade watchers by declaring Congress should not vote on the accord until after next November’s presidential election.
The plan is probably to have the vote during the lame duck session of Congress between the election and the new representatives and senators taking office.
The White House is aiming to convince the Republican-controlled Congress to pass the agreement by mid next year, but unless Senator McConnell backflips on his vocal resistance, that goal will likely prove near impossible.
Senator McConnell and Senate finance committee chair Orrin Hatch have misgivings over the deal the Obama administration struck among the 12 countries. They are particularly incensed by the US failing to secure a longer monopoly period for pharmaceutical drugs known as biologics.
The US pushed for as much as 12 years. Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb successfully held the line at five years in the final deal, prompting Senator Hatch to last month accuse Australia of being “greedy”.
This is critical. The resistance in the US is because they think Australia and NZ got too good a deal with our negotiators were too tough.
It is possible Republicans are trying to bargain with the administration, to try and force the US back to the negotiating table with the 11 other countries or to extract concessions on domestic political policies.
There’s no way the deal can be renegotiated. It passes or it is dead. Concessions on domestic policies may come into play though.