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Following the completion of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations on October 4, we now move into Phase Two of TPP. The steps beginning with the signing of TPP by the President through Congressional ratification; this phase also includes release of the actual text of the agreement, which has not yet been made public. Each step of the process will be guided by the procedures set out in the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, signed into law on June 29. Looking to the requirements of TPA, we can piece together a possible timeline of Phase Two. But in doing so, we must recognize that yet to be determined political and logistical uncertainties will certainly affect any speculative timeline, as well as the final outcome.
TPA requires the President to (i) notify Congress of his intent to enter into the TPP agreement and (ii) instruct the United States International Trade Commission to prepare and submit an assessment of the probable economic effects of the TPP at least 90 calendar days before the date on which he enters into the TPP. Therefore, if the President were to notify Congress on November 1, the earliest date TPP could be signed would be January 30, 2016.
The next step is for the President to publish the text of the TPP agreement on the United States Trade Representative’s website at least 60 days before the date on which he enters into the TPP. Accordingly, if the President intends to sign the agreement on January 30, 2016, TPA requires the actual text be published no later than December 1, 2015.
Within 60 days after the President signs TPP, he is required to submit to Congress a list of changes in U.S. law that would be required under TPP. Accordingly, if TPP is signed on January 30, the President must notify Congress of required law changes by March 30, 2016. Congress must also be informed of any required administrative actions and the final text of the TPP agreement at least 30 days before the implementation bill can be submitted to Congress.
Under this scenario, TPP implementing legislation could be introduced in Congress as early as April 2016, setting the stage for Congressional debate and vote on the TPP agreement. So, at this point, the earliest we can expect Congress to consider TPP implementation is late Spring 2016.
After six years of TPP negotiations, we soon will be able to review and analyze the actual text of the TPP agreement to be sure that it will protect and grow the tech industry. However, the ultimate Congressional ratification of this agreement will be strongly affected by the realities of a divided Congress and an unfolding Presidential election.