TPP In Trouble

Boy, I hope the negotiators from the other countries end up showing more spine than Democratic senators did on fast track authority. Politico reports the encouraging developments here.

Negotiators from the U.S., Canada and 10 Pacific rim nations appeared unable to reach a deal on what was billed as the biggest trade pact in history because of differences over agricultural and auto markets and protections for drug makers.

“We are not going to have TPP closed during this round,” a senior official from one of the nations predicted about the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact.

A number of issues are proving problematic, including extended patent protections for Big Pharma.

U.S. drug manufacturers say they need 12 years of data protection for new biologic medicines to recoup research and development costs. A group of countries led by Australia insist drug makers should get no more than five years of protection to hasten development of cheaper generic or “biosimilar” drugs, which are more affordable for consumers. Many expected the negotiations to settle around seven or eight years, but an agreement had not been reached.

Politics will increasingly play a role if an agreement is not reached soon.

“It would be a very significant setback if they don’t reach a deal in Maui,” said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “I don’t think it’s fatal, but what I think they would need to do is reach an agreement by mid-August.”

That would still allow Obama to push the agreement through Congress before Iowa and New Hampshire hold their early presidential primaries. If it happened much later than that, Clinton might be forced by opponents such as Sen. Bernie Sanders into a position of opposing the agreement or promising to renegotiate if elected president.

“That would put enormous pressure on the 28 Democrats who voted for trade promotion authority” to withhold their support for the TPP deal, Hufbauer said.

Here’s hoping the whole thing falls apart right now,

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