Republican U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said Friday that the Obama administration might have to renegotiate parts of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the text of which was released Thursday.
"I understand that renegotiation may be difficult, particularly with so many parties involved," Hatch said in a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization that has yet to back the agreement, reported Reuters.
The Utah senator's support will be crucial to passing the deal. Hatch said he was still carefully studying the text and reserving judgement but indicated it may need to be reworked to gain Congress' approval.
"At the end of the day, (the U.S. Trade Representative) may need to go back to the negotiating table and try again... The alternative to renegotiation may very well be no TPP at all," he said.
Hatch said he was concerned that negotiators failed to secure 12 years of protection for next-generation biological drugs, which could push companies to leave the industry, make it more difficult for innovators to recover investments made in new products and leave Americans subsidizing cheaper medicines in other nations, according to Reuters.
Biological drugs are given a minimum of five years of data protection under the agreement, along with an extra buffer for administrative processes. The U.S. campaigned for 12 years of protection to ensure incentive for innovation, while Australia and New Zealand pushed for five years to give patients access to cheaper medicine, according to BioPharma Reporter.
Hatch said the U.S. should not have agreed to Australia's "greedy" demands for a smaller monopoly period.
He also said he saw problems with sections of the deal relating to tobacco, labor rules and dairy.
"We're losing votes as we speak for no good reason," he told reporters, according to Reuters. "My suggestion is, get back to the bargaining table and let them know that this may not pass."