TPP Deal – Text Eagerly Awaited. US Trade Representative Michael Froman said this week that the Obama Administration will work with congressional leadership on a yet-to-be-determined timetable for consideration of the final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest suggested the Obama Administration is taking into consideration the timeline to ensure a final Congressional vote will happen before the lame duck session of Congress in December 2016.
Ambassador Froman also confirmed this week that the TPP countries continue to work on completing the final details of the text. He did not provide an estimated date by which the legal review of the text may be completed or the text publicly released; however, some sources report the text may be available in early November.
Safe Harbor Agreement – Next Round of TTIP Negotiations Next Week. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker signaled Thursday that the European Union is holding up completion of a major reform of the transatlantic “safe harbor” agreement, which allows US companies to transfer European citizens’ data outside the EU. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) invalidated the agreement in a ruling last week. Damien Levie, the head of the Agriculture and Trade Section at the Delegation of the European Union to Washington, urged this week that the US Congress pass the Judicial Redress Act (“JRA”, H.R. 1428) to address some of the uncertainty surrounding the ECJ decision.
The JRA was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in September and enjoys almost unanimous support among stakeholders. If enacted, the legislation would address some of the ECJ’s concerns, including by allowing citizens of designated foreign allies to bring lawsuits when they believe US government agencies have mishandled their information. The Senate is expected to consider the JRA shortly after the House does so, and Senate leadership could include the legislation as part of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a major cyber reform bill that is expected to be raised in the Senate in the coming weeks. On its face, however, the JRA does not address the type of EU-US data transfers that was at issue in the ECJ decision.
It is also important to recognize that the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations could provide a forum for the discussion of a possible side agreement to address the ECJ’s concerns. A deeper discussion of data protection concerns could also be addressed in a more detailed chapter of TTIP, especially since the chapters have yet to be finalized. The next round of TTIP negotiations is scheduled for 19-23 October in Miami, Florida, and could provide a critical forum for discussion of next steps.
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