Levin says plenty of work left on Asia-Pacific trade deal

A top House Democrat on Thursday said negotiations on an Asia-Pacific trade deal still have a long way to go.

Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, released a report said the list is long of major outstanding issues within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks during remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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He also called for the establishment of an intense bipartisan consultative process with Congress to determine how to address pending issues and shortcomings within the negotiations.

"These are very important negotiations that deserve the full attention and active involvement of Congress,” he said.

The seven-page report urges trade officials to keep the focus on tackling the details of the TPP first before considering trade promotion authority, which would give Congress an up or down vote on the trade deal.

Levin said there are still plenty of incomplete chapters to the pending deal that include worker rights, environmental protections, currency manipulation, auto and agricultural market access in Japan and state-owned enterprises.

“They have the potential to result in significant economic opportunities for U.S. businesses, workers and farmers," he said. "Or they have the potential to lock in uncompetitive practices, weak standards and a system that does not spread the benefits of trade."

Levin has led the charge in pressing for more congressional involvement in the process of negotiating global trade deals.

“A full partnership between USTR and Congress will send our negotiating partners a strong signal that the Administration is proceeding with active Congressional consultation in seeking a high-standard agreement,” he wrote in the report.

“If and when that point approaches, a decision can be made on passage of TPA to help finalize the effective deal with our negotiating partners."