The country’s top trade official is confident the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership could pass this year, despite increasingly critical rhetoric about the deal from both parties’ presumptive presidential nominees.
U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman said Thursday that though Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have been outspoken in their opposition to the expansive trade agreement, he and his colleagues recently enjoyed positive receptions from U.S. lawmakers; a sign, he said, that the deal may soon move forward.
“They’ve always been politically difficult,” Froman said of trade agreements during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Thursday.
“We think this is the window of opportunity to get it done.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which the Obama administration completed in October, forges economic ties with 11 Pacific Rim countries, including Japan, Australia and Vietnam.
Since then, Republican support for the deal – critical for it to reach, and pass, a vote in Congress – has waned significantly.
In drafting a party platform Monday, the GOP left the deal out altogether, an act many see as signaling a backing-away. Democrats, meanwhile, did not oppose the deal in their platform either, saying Clinton’s voiced opposition to it is enough.
However, it’s critical that the agreement makes progress before Obama leaves office, Froman said.
“If it’s not done this year, it’s quite unclear when it would get done, given the broader political developments,” Froman said.
Froman maintained that lawmakers understand the serious economic and political costs of letting the agreement die.