Congress has officially arrived in D.C., already facing a heap of leftovers from 2014. Among them are issues surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pending 13-country Asia Pacific trade agreement that could mean expanded access for U.S. ag goods.
U.S. participation in the agreement has been under construction officially since late 2009. Now seemingly on the cusp of completion, ag interests have spent the past year and a half closely watching Japan's reluctance to negotiate on tariff exemptions on selected ag goods.
As the calendar turned over to 2015, though, U.S. ag trade negotiator Darci Vetter suggested a TPP resolution could be in sight. But there's another hurdle: Trade Promotion Authority.
TPA allows the President to move final trade deals forward by allowing only an up or down vote from Congress, what some call "fast-tracking." This in turn gives trading partners assurance that the agreed-upon deal won't be transformed by Congressional changes.
While an effort to authorize TPA has seen its share of ups and downs, 2015 could be the year, some sources suggest. But that's not without opposition.
Here's a look at five TPP stories that are worth the read:
Tide changing on TPP negotiations. Japan's elections could bring changed stance in stalled TPP talks. (Farm Futures)
Trade's big breakout. Could 2015 be the year of trillion-dollar trade deals? (Politico)
President Obama's push for trade deal angers Democrats. Republican Congress now wields power. (Columbus Dispatch)
U.S., Mexican leaders ready to wrap up massive trade deal. Deal could be in the "near future." (The Hill)
Obama's trade chief pushes for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Froman undaunted by odds. (New York Times)