United States lawmakers and senior officials are leaning towards the likelihood of the Trans-Pacific Partnership achieving ratification in Washington DC during the so-called "lame duck" session of Congress expected later this year, Prime Minister John Key says.
Speaking at his weekly press conference after returning from the American capital last week, Key said: "The on balance, considered view of the variety of agencies and people that we spoke to was that they gave it a good chance of passing, but if it was going to pass, it would pass in the lame duck period."
However, it remained unknown whether the numbers to pass TPP legislation would be achieved, he said.
The lame duck sitting, which does not necessarily have to occur and which TPP opponents speculate may be stymied, would occur between the US presidential election in November and the swearing-in of a new US president early next year.
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The session has often in the past been a channel for passing legislation that is politically contentious with the general public but which US lawmakers are willing to see go forward.
Key said it was clear most of the support for the TPP was among Republican members of Congress and they would be weighing up not only the economic but also the geopolitical implications of failing to ratify the 12-nation trade/investment deal.
"For the US, the TPP is not only about economic benefits, but also its continued leadership and relationships in the Asia-Pacific region," Key said.
"It's clear that the political environment in the United States is complex right now, but the administration is committed to ratification and I remain optimistic that the TPP will be passed by the US."