The Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is not a new trade agreement, but it has been making headlines recently, yet most Americans have very little knowledge of the landmark deal that could affect President Obama’s presidential legacy.

Additionally, the TPP could have a major ripple on the U.S. economy, if it is ratified. But what exactly is the TPP, and what does the average person need to know about it?

#1) Passage or failure will affect Obama’s legacy.

A new trade deal with Asia was one of four foreign policy goals set by President Obama after being re-elected in 2012. The other three goals included a new nuclear deal with Iran, patching relations with Cuba, and creating an international climate-change agreement. The president achieved each of those goals, though none of them required Congressional approval. Therefore, if the president fails to convince Congress to ratify the agreement, his other three successes could be totally ignored.

#2) It is a hot topic in this election cycle.

Both major party candidates oppose the TPP, although Hillary Clinton has switched sides during her campaign. However, Libertarian Gary Johnson supports the agreement. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton praised the TPP, saying it “sets the gold standard in trade agreements.” But, as Bernie Sanders attacked her during the Democratic campaign, she backtracked, saying that she did not support the TPP in its current form. Donald Trump, meanwhile, has been strongly against the deal throughout his campaign, even calling it “a continuing rape of our country.”

#3) A lot is covered in the agreement.

The TPP includes major details such as removing tariffs and other trade barriers for the partner nations, allowing for legal arbitration between nations and companies that disagree on trade parameters, and easing restrictions on foreign investments. However, there are many more complex details, like improving labor and environmental standards in the partner nations, defining how intellectual property can be handled, and international data transfer.

#4) No more NAFTA.

The deal is meant to supersede any other trade agreements between various participating nations. For example, NAFTA only suggests labor standards that would be enforced in the participating countries, whereas the TPP mandates specific standards for workers’ rights, improved labor conditions, and more.

#5) A lame duck session is the agreements last hope.

Little hope remains for the passage of the TPP, as the lame duck session is the only real chance the agreement has to be ratified. However, Congressional hearings would have to begin sometime this month in order to force a vote after Election Day. The good news for supporters of the deal is, the current president, the Senate majority leader, and the speaker of the House are all pro-free trade.

Whether the TPP is ratified in the U.S. or not, the 11 other countries that have signed off on the deal will continue with the process of adapting to the agreement. Additionally, the fact that such an elaborate and progressive trade deal has even come this far signals that free trade is still alive and well around the globe, and gives hope that our nation could one day work out a free trade agreement with the nations of the Pacific Rim that will be acceptable on both ends of the deal.


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