TPP talks advance in Singapore

TPP talks advance in Singapore

Grand deal on TPP talks not expected before year-end.

TRADE ministers from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries said they made substantial progress following four days of meetings in Singapore last week but will not meet their goal of concluding the talks by the end of this year.

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Mike Froman described the outcome of the meeting as providing "great momentum," and member countries now are "focused on building on that momentum with the direction given by the ministers on the landing zones." The next round of negotiations is scheduled to take place next month.

The ministers and heads of delegation for the 12 TPP countries that met in Singapore released a joint statement Dec. 10 announcing that they made much progress and were moving forward. The statement added that, based on the success of the ministerial, they will keep working toward an agreement in the coming weeks and continue "consultations with stakeholders and engage in our respective political processes."

While major progress was made on most of the remaining chapters, there is still some unfinished business when it comes to market access issues for farmers, according to House Ways & Means Committee chair Dave Camp (R., Mich.).

In a press call following the meeting, Froman said agriculture comes up in various parts of the agreement and the negotiations for TPP.

"There are rules and disciplines around agriculture, including in the goods chapter and also in what we call SPS, sanitary and phytosanitary standards," Froman said. "Then, in the market access negotiations, agriculture is obviously a key issue across the board as we talk with other countries about gaining access to their agricultural market."

Floyd Gaibler, U.S. Grains Council director of trade policy and biotechnology, was in Singapore for the meetings and said key agricultural issues are among the most important unresolved items.

"Market access for agricultural exports involves many particularly sensitive products, which is why the ag section is always among the most difficult sections to finalize in multilateral talks," Gaibler noted.

Despite the difficulty, however, the council and a number of other food and agricultural associations continue to press for the elimination of tariffs of all products, with no sector or product exclusions.

"Tariff elimination with no exclusions is one of the core principles needed to ensure a high-level and comprehensive trade agreement," Gaibler said.

Comprehensive tariff elimination must also be supported by robust SPS provisions to eliminate non-science-based SPS measures that restrict trade.

"Another key unresolved issue is effective TPP enforcement of enhanced SPS provisions and a rapid response mechanism," Gaibler said.

The rapid response mechanism is important so that shipment-specific trade disputes can be resolved quickly.

The Grains Council is also seeking language to help address biotechnology regulatory concerns regarding asynchronous approvals and low-level presence policies.

 

TPA

The National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. reported in its Dec. 12 "Cattlemen's Capitol Concerns" newsletter that the good news is that enough progress has been made to spur Congress to consider voting on trade promotion authority (TPA), also known as fast track, in the first months of 2014.

In spite of some naysayers in both parties who oppose TPA, Camp has stated that completion of TPP and other trade agreements rests on passage of TPA, the newsletter reported.

Since 1974, Congress has enacted TPA legislation that defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the President to follow throughout the negotiation process. At the end of the negotiation and consultation process, Congress gives the agreement an up or down vote, without amendment.

The last bill was passed in 2002 and expired in 2007.

Dave Salmonsen, American Farm Bureau Federation senior director of congressional relations, explained that some of the details of the negotiating objectives are still being worked out, but in the end, TPA helps drive agreements such as TPP to finality.

There has been some discourse on TPA from both sides of the aisle. A total of 60 senators and 230 representatives have demanded currency discipline provisions.

 

U.S. benefits from trade with TPP economies

U.S.-TPP trade

$1.8 trillion in goods and private services in 2012 (37% of total)

U.S.-TPP trade growth:

 

Goods and services trade

Up 46% in last 3 years (2009-12)

Agricultural exports

$59.2 billion in 2012 (up 36 % from 2009)

Top agricultural exports:

 

Corn

$5.7 billion

Pork and pork products

$4.3 billion

Soybeans

$3.6 billion

Beef and beef products

$3.3 billion

Fresh fruit

$3.1 billion

According to an analysis supported by the Peterson Institute, a TPP agreement would provide global income benefits of an estimated $223 billion per year by 2025. Real income benefits to the U.S. are an estimated $77 billion per year. TPP could generate an estimated $305 billion in additional world exports per year by 2025, including an additional $123.5 billion in U.S. exports.

 

Volume:85 Issue:51

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