Congress has voted to delay a final vote on President Obama¹s negotiating authority until 30 July. This follows a defeat of a Bill associated with the negotiating authority designed to provide assistance to US workers who might be displaced by trade negotiation outcomes. Congressional leaders had chosen to separate votes on these two Bills, thinking that the Democrats would support the assistance package. They were wrong. It is too early to say whether the Administration will be able to change attitudes within the Democrat Party, or whether sufficient numbers of Republicans will be willing to vote tactically in support of the assistance package (even though they think it is outrageous socialism) to achieve the wider good of a negotiating authority.
Without TPA TPP members will be unwilling to finalise the agreement as there will be no guarantee that the US will be able to deliver on the outcome.
The delay on a final vote is probably positive as it gives the Administration more time to try and achieve a positive outcome. But there is no guarantee of success. And even if the Bill passes, there is now not much time to get TPP finalised and ratified before US politics goes into Presidential election mode. TPP needs to be negotiated by the end of September/early October at the latest.
Luckily New Zealand does not have all its eggs in the TPP basket. Good progress is being made in associating New Zealand with the Pacific Alliance (which would give us access to the Mexican, Colombian and Peruvian markets). We are part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) involving India, ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea and Japan. And now the prospect of a FTA negotiation with the EU is looking promising. Expect an announcement before the end of the year.