The International Trade Commission announced Nov. 17 the institution of its investigation of the likely economic impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. However, the timing associated with this investigation could slow the Obama administration’s push to submit TPP implementing legislation to Congress in early 2016 in hopes of securing approval before the presidential and congressional election campaigns heat up.

Earlier this month U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman asked the ITC to complete this investigation and submit its report “as soon as possible.” However, the ITC listed May 18 as the anticipated date for transmitting its report. That would be 105 days after Feb. 3, the date President Obama is expected to sign the TPP because it is the statutorily mandated 90 days after his Nov. 5 notification to Congress of his intent to sign it.

While the ITC could conceivably submit its report before May 18, the timeline for its investigation indicates that it will take several months just to conclude the process of gathering information. A public hearing will be held Jan. 13, requests to appear at this hearing are due by Dec. 22, and pre-hearing briefs and statements are due by Dec. 29. The ITC is giving interested parties until Jan. 22 to file post-hearing briefs and statements and Feb. 15 to file all other written submissions.

The ITC’s economic impact analysis of an FTA is typically submitted to Congress at the same time as implementing legislation, but this is not a legal requirement. The White House could therefore conceivably submit such legislation before the ITC’s report is done, though lawmakers would undoubtedly wait to hold a final vote on it until they receive that report.

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