The Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed by representatives of its 12 member nations in Auckland, New Zealand, on Feb. 3.
The 12 nations involved - the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru – account for 40% of the world’s economy.
The pact is supported by many agricultural groups in the United States, but others fear the pact will ship jobs to developing countries.
The BBC reported police clashed with some protesters in Auckland in the days before the signing. The protesters say the deal will benefit big business.
President Obama supports the deal, which took five years to negotiate, saying it will support U.S. jobs.
“With the TPP, we can rewrite the rules of trade to benefit America’s middle class,” Obama said in a media statement. “Because if we don’t, competitors who don’t share our values, like China, will step in to fill that void.”
The National Corn Growers Association supports the TPP because it gives U.S. farmers and ranchers market access.
“This agreement is good for both corn farmers and our friends and partners in the livestock industry,” said Chip Bowling, NCGA president, in a media statement. “We all want to see more American grains, meat and dairy on dinner tables around the world.”
Congress must approve the trade deal and in December, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told The Washington Post that the deal shouldn’t be sent to Congress until after the election.
Presidential candidates have mixed opinions on the deal. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump oppose the deal or have concerns with it. Republicans Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have voiced support.
The deal must be approved in all nations involved before it takes effect. With the signing, countries have two years to act on the agreement.
A number of members of the state and national wheat growers associations visited their members of Congress this week to stress their support of TPP.
“We need swift consideration and approval because every day that implementation is delayed, we face tariff disadvantages that undercut our ability to compete in established and new markets,” said U.S. Wheat Associates chairman Brian O’Toole, a wheat farmer from Crystal, N.D., in a media statement.
With duty-free access under its free trade agreement with Vietnam, for example, Australia has a $12 to $15 per metric ton price advantage over U.S. wheat, according to USW. Wheat is the most export-dependent crop grown by U.S. farmers.
A sampling of media reports:
Forbes: The TPP, world’s largest trade pact, finally gets signed
Yes, it’s a big deal because there’s lot of nations included, and it’s not really a big trade deal because most of the important trade issues have already been dealt with . . .
Time: President Obama urges swift passage of TPP trade deal
Obama says the agreement “sets new, high standards for trade and investment,” but labor unions and environmentalists are wary.
Aljazeera: The TPP controversy explained
Supporters say it will ensure food safety measures are developed in a science-based manner. Opponents say it will become a corporate power grab.