It won't be easy for the Obama administration to navigate passage of its signature trade agreement. Photo: Mark Nozell/Flickr
By Eric Farnsworth, Vice President COA, Washington Office
Trade is never a popular topic in a presidential election year, but 2016 may prove to be an inflection point. For the first time since the Depression, the presumptive candidates of both major political parties have spoken skeptically about trade, one even suggesting that he would renegotiate existing agreements including NAFTA. Anti-trade sentiment in both Houses of Congress is growing, as the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democrat party expands, the traditional isolationist strain within the Republican party re-emerges, and the center disintegrates. Ironically, trade is one topic that seemingly unites both sides of the political spectrum, even as the American public decries the deep divisions in Washington. If George Carlin were still alive, by now he would surely have increased his list of dirty words from seven to eight.
The Obama Administration is attempting to navigate passage of its signature trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, through this political maw. It won’t be easy, with numerous observers predicting that the best time for passage may be in a lame-duck Congressional session after the November 8 elections. If that particular window closes, the next best opportunity may not come around for several years.
This would be a significant setback for US policy in the Western Hemisphere. Most analysts consider TPP to be an initiative focused on Asia, the economic leg of the Administration’s …
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