Pacific-Rim Nations Led by U.S. Agree to Historic Trade Deal
Monday, October 5, 2015
A dozen Pacific-rim nations agreed to an historic pact that would cut trade barriers on items ranging from cars to rice, setting up a potentially contentious ratification vote before a skeptical U.S. Congress.
After a week of final talks in Atlanta, an agreement was announced Monday on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact more than five years in the making designed to boost commerce among nations that produce 40 percent of global economic output.
“This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products,” President Barack Obama, who sees the pact as a key element in his “pivot to Asia” foreign policy, said in a statement Monday. “It’s an agreement that puts American workers first and will help middle-class families get ahead.”
The agreement will provide duty-free trade on most goods, and reduced tariffs on others. It will also provide mutual recognition of many regulations, including an exclusivity period for biologic drugs, which are derived from living organisms, and patent protection for pharmaceuticals. That was one of the final topics that was settled in marathon talks, as developing nations sought to have quicker access to generic medications.
China was left out of the agreement, which supporters promoted as a counterweight to its growing influence. “When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy,” Obama said in the statement.
The White House framed the deal as expanding markets for U.S.-made goods and job opportunities for people in the U.S. The pact would eliminate more than 18,000 tariffs that other nations impose now on U.S.-made products, the White House said in an e-mailed fact sheet.