November 5, 2015
The long-anticipated release Thursday of the sweeping Pacific Rim trade agreement text set off an intense public battle over its pros and cons that probably will rage until Congress issues its own verdict next year.
Critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership insisted the accord’s environmental and dispute settlement sections were worse than they had expected. Republican lawmakers and some business and pro-trade groups reacted more positively as they pored over the text’s 2,700 pages.
The pact lists thousands of tariff items that will be reduced or eliminated, including rice, dairy and sugar. It also sets uniform rules and practices for intellectual property, labor rights, government procurement and other aspects of international commerce for the 12 countries that have pledged to adopt it.
The agreement was completed last month in Atlanta after more than five years of complex negotiations involving the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Chile, Peru, New Zealand, Vietnam and Brunei.
If implemented, it would be the largest regional trade agreement in the world, encompassing countries that constitute 40% of the global economy, and a key part of President Obama’s legacy.
The pact could have a major effect on California, home to the nation’s busiest ports and a major exporter of electronics, farm products, machinery and other goods and services to Pacific Rim countries.
The text shows that California farmers, for example, will most likely be able to export about 50,000 additional metric tons of rice annually to Japan’s lucrative market, about 15% more than average shipments in recent years.
The state’s tech sector and entertainment industry, meanwhile, are expected to benefit from an easing of cross-border data flows and long copyright protections for film and music.
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