U.S. lawmakers provided a reality check Thursday to the Obama administration’s optimism overs its trade agenda following some progress in key negotiations with Japan.
The administration said last week it narrowed differences on access to Japan’s automobile and agriculture sectors. That is key to moving forward on a broader Pacific rim free trade pact.
But Democratic including Sen. Charles Schumer, told the administration’s top trade official that the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership will not win congressional approval anyway, unless it also addresses alleged currency manipulation by Japan.
Trade Representative Michael Froman conceded at the hearing of the Senate Finance Committee that currency issues have not been discussed yet in TPP talks.
The committee’s top-ranking Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch questioned the president’s commitment to securing trade promotion authority. He said without it, the administration’s ambitious trade agenda “will almost certainly fail.”
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