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At Least Five Months Needed for Reviews of Pending Trade Pacts, ITC Says

Monday, November 25, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The International Trade Commission told members of Congress recently that it would need at least 150 days from the time it receives the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to submit a report assessing the TPP’s potential economy-wide and sectoral effects. The ITC expects that it would need a similar amount of time to analyze other agreements currently under negotiation, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the Trade in Services Agreement and an expansion of the Information Technology Agreement. Under a 2002 law granting trade promotion authority (which expired in 2007 but many provisions of which are still being followed with respect to the process of securing congressional approval of trade agreements), the ITC was required to submit such reports within 90 days.

The ITC said that while it has significant experience analyzing the effects of trade agreements, analysis of the TPP presents certain challenges that earlier analyses did not. The most obvious of these is the scope and diversity of countries included in the agreement, which would include at least 12 countries with varied levels of economic development, different economic systems and varied participation in regional and global value chains. The TPP also will reportedly cover a variety of non-tariff issues – including rules of origin, customs and trade facilitation, regulatory harmonization and transparency, international investment treatment, services trade and intellectual property rights – and it will be important to consider the cumulation effects for these issues across multiple trading partners.

The ITC adds that given the comprehensive nature of the TPP and the unprecedentedly large share of U.S. trade accounted for by participating countries, the agency’s collection of data and information will require a massive effort that will likely need to cover all goods and services sectors. Analyzing this data and information will be time consuming, as the scope of traditional tariff analysis will be vast and the application of techniques to quantify the impact of non-tariff provisions will present challenges. The ITC will also require extensive efforts to ensure it collects the views of those potentially affected by the agreement, which will be complicated by the number of countries firms will need to consider in their evaluations. In addition, the magnitude of written submissions and hearing participants is expected to significantly exceed past experience.

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