U.S. senators voted 60 to 38 on Wednesday to pass (NYT) legislation that grants President Barack Obama trade promotion authority to negotiate free trade agreements. The bill helps clear the way (BBC) for the Obama administration to move forward with negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal with twelve Pacific Rim nations responsible for 40 percent of world trade. The TPP, seen as the centerpiece of Obama's rebalance to Asia, could be the largest free trade agreement in a generation. Japan welcomed (Japan Times) Congress's passing of fast-track authority, while Philippines Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said that the Philippines wants to join (Diplomat) the TPP.
"The administration’s goal is to get the TPP back to Congress for approval before the end of the year and before the 2016 political campaigns heat up. Because of the recent delays in Congress, officials say this is an ambitious target. Meanwhile, environmentalists, labour unions and other special-interest groups are gearing up to fight their corner," writes Shawn Donnan in the Financial Times.