Trade Minister Steve Ciobo is ‘cautiously optimistic’ the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal will proceed despite growing concerns the crucial legislation will not be passed by US Congress.
His confidence follows meetings with US Trade Representative Michael Froman and
Senator Orrin Hatch, the most senior Republican in the Senate as well as Congressman Kevin Brady, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee in Washington this week.
The TPP involving 12 nations is the largest regional trade deal negotiated in more than 20 years.
The agreement creates new market access opportunities for Australian exporters and new investment opportunities.
Mitch McConnell, the leading Republican in the Congress said recently the TPP legislation was now “very unlikely” to go through Congress during the Obama administration.
Mr Ciobo said the Congressman’s comments do not signal the death knell of the TPP.
“I would say that the prevailing mood from the Obama administration is one of quiet optimism,” he told ABC radio in a recent interview.
“Certainly, there are a number of elements where it's recognised that the United States is in a unique position, together with the 12 countries that have joined the TPP, in terms of signing onto the agreement to be able to influence a great trading block, one that's going to help to drive economic growth, help revive better job opportunities for Australians.
“That's part of the reason, of course, why we signed up to it. So there’s quiet optimism that they'll still be able to have passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership through the US Congress.”
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has criticized the proposed agreement while Republication presidential nominee Donald Trump has indicated he will tear up the deal if elected.
But despite this Mr Ciobo says he remains "cautiously optimistic" about the passage and domestic ratification in the United States of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“This is a multi-faceted deal,” he said. “It's going to be very good for Australia. That's part of the reason why the Coalition is very focused on the processes that we have domestically about ratifying the TPP, and we want it to happen. There's a lot of people in the United States that want it to happen, as well.”