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Asia-Pacific nations set to sign Trans-Pacific Partnership in New Zealand

US White House press secretary Josh Earnest hailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which 12 Asia-Pacific nations are set to sign in New Zealand - AP

US White House press secretary Josh Earnest hailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which 12 Asia-Pacific nations are set to sign in New Zealand - AP

03/02/2016 08:53

(Vatican Radio)  Trade Ministers from twelve Asia-Pacific nations are set to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Auckland, New Zealand. The White House has advocated for the deal, saying it has clear economic benefits.

Listen to Priscilla Huff's report:

Congressional leaders are looking at the Trans Pacific Partnership with a skeptical eye. Following a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnel, the lawmakers there are concerns about the TPP that must be address before final approval.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, "It's a complicated process. We are not yet at a place where the President has forwarded the agreement to Congress for their ratification".

The agreement covers about 26 percent of global trade and upwards of 40 percent of American imports and exports alone. The Obama administration has said, the TPP is "centerpiece of America's economic rebalancing and can help boost regional integration.

But development experts say, actually, it's unlikely the average American will feel any impact of the TPP once it's ratified.

Kimberly Elliott, with the Center for Global development, said, "I think from the perspective of the overall US economy, the TPP will probably not even be discernable in terms of its economic effects. There will be some sectoral effects, some job losses in some sectors and some gains in some other sectors, but the overall impact will, I think, be quite small."

The deal took months of intricate negotiations with each of the 12 nations concerned about specific sectors such as Canadian timber and dairy or Japanese cars or labor practices in Vietnam.

Jeffery Schott of the Peterson Instititue for International Economics thinks on balance, the TPP is a good thing. "Now that doesn't mean that everybody will benefit. On balance, it's a big positive but for some communities, some industries, there will be more competition and net losses, for some workers as well."

And groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - which represents America's largest industries support the deal even as Congressional lawmakers aren't so sure.

With recurring criticism that the deal was negotiated for the most part in secret the White House is emphasizing the next step is allowing for plenty of public comment in the U.S.

Josh Earnest said, "After that there are a couple of other steps before Congress has an opportunity to consider it. So, I'm not standing up here and suggesting that Congress should act tomorrow to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but what I am saying is that once we go through this process and that there has been an opportunity for the public to carefully consider what's included in the agreement, that we would like to see Congress act quickly on it."

President Obama would like the U.S. Congress to finish it's part of the formalization of the treaty before lawmakers head home to campaign for re-election, in early July.

But political watchers here in Washington think, the most likely time the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be fully approved in the US is in November
after the national elections.

03/02/2016 08:53