Free Trade and the TPP

Will Republicans Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Containers at Container Terminal 9 during sunset at Hong Kong's Kwai Chung district, September 7, 2012. Bobby Yip / Reuters

In a surprising development, it is congressional Republicans and a few of their business allies that now pose the biggest threat to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement among 12 countries with 40 percent of the world’s GDP. When, after five years of talks, an agreement was finally announced on October 5, neither a single Republican leader in Congress, nor any broad business federation could be found to support it. Republican support for the TPP is indispensable since most congressional Democrats oppose it and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just come out against it.

Consequently, ratification is both a question of when and if. Without ardent efforts by GOP leaders to move some of their reticent rank-and-file, the TPP cannot be ratified. Legally, Congress cannot even vote until the February primary season at the earliest and, in an election year, ratification will be an uphill climb even under the

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