US Senate rejects TPP Fast Track Bill: TPP deal in doubt this year

Media Release 13 May, 2015

“The conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is now in doubt following the defeat in the US Senate of a proposal to advance the FastTrack Bill.The Fast Track Bill would prevent the U.S. Congress from amending the TPP, and instead allow only a yes or no vote,” Dr Patricia Ranald Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) said today.

“In what the New York Times has called a ‘stinging rebuke’ the Obama administration failed to get the required 60 votes in the Senate, with most Democrats opposed. This reflects a huge US community campaign which has pressured the majority of Democrats and some Republicans to oppose fast track for the TPP because of their concerns that the TPP would restrict future US policy on cheaper medicines, copyright and food labelling, and would enable foreign corporations to sue the US government over changes in domestic legislation. These are the same concerns being expressed by community organisations in Australia,” said Dr Ranald.

“Opposition to FastTrack is even stronger in the US House of Representatives, which means that Fast Track authority is unlikely to be achieved this year. Other TPP governments, notably New Zealand Japan, Canada and Malaysia have said publicly they will not finalise the deal unless the US has Fast Track authority. This casts strong doubt on whether the TPP Ministers Meeting scheduled for May 26-28 can finalise the deal,” said Dr Ranald

U.S. Congress members have said they will not agree to Fast track without currency control and other changes to the TPP which are unacceptable to governments like Japan and Malaysia.

“Time is running out for the US on the TPP because its unpopularity means that neither Democrats nor Republicans want it to be an issue in the presidential election race which will intensify in mid-year. Hillary Clinton has not endorsed the TPP. This vote means that the FastTrack Bill may lapse and the US would not be able to finalise the deal until after the Presidential election in late 2016. This would push negotiations into their seventh year, squandering resources on what is becoming a futile exercise,” said Dr Ranald.

“The Australian and other TPP governments should recognise the US Senate vote as a sign of the strong community opposition to the TPP in the US and other TPP countries, and should not proceed with negotiations which are against the public interest,” said Dr Ranald.

Contact: Dr Patricia Ranald, 0419 695 841