The State of Trade Legislation

August 18, 2016

In October 2015, international trade officials announced the conclusion of negotiations related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which would update rules impacting ecommerce exports in the Asia-Pacific region. Negotiating countries include: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chili, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Altogether, these nations represent 40% of the global GDP and roughly one-third of trade across the globe.

Over 90% of American small businesses on eBay export, and one in three of their exports are to customers in a TPP country. These trade trends are notable, but even more impressive when you consider that less than 5% of traditional small businesses in the US export. Unfortunately, Internet-enabled businesses are sometimes unable to reach international customers because outdated trade rules do not accommodate small ecommerce exporters. This is why eBay supports the TPP and ongoing trade policy negotiations that seek to reduce barriers to ecommerce, improve parcel delivery, maximize market access for small and medium businesses, and support other services vital for smaller exporters to do business.   

The next step in the process is for the US House of Representatives and Senate to each hold a vote on whether or not to approve the Agreement. This vote has yet to be scheduled.  Both Presidential candidates have expressed opposition to the TPP and it is highly unlikely Congress will vote on the Agreement prior to the election. The focus at this time is on lame duck session of Congress which will take place after election day and most likely conclude before the end of 2016. It will be unclear until after the election is decided what is possible during the lame duck. As of early August, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan indicated that TPP does not have enough support to pass. The Obama administration has said that the TPP agreement would need to have enough support before it would send an implementing bill up to Capitol Hill for a vote in the lame-duck session.  The wild card for the lame duck session is Members of Congress that are retiring or were defeated and still have the opportunity to vote on legislation, which could alter the landscape of support.  Should there not be a vote this year, we expect that early next year the new President will either fully oppose the Agreement or lay out in detail what changes would be necessary for it to gain their support. The eBay government relations team will continue to closely monitor any developments regarding TPP on behalf of all eBay businesses that export.  

To learn more about the TPP trade agreement, visit the USTR website.  To learn more about eBay’s stance on trade, visit our Global Trade issue page.