Thursday the U.S. Trade Representative Office officially released the full text of the negotiated free trade agreement between the United States and 11 Asian Pacific nations. Although many details of the agreement had been released, the real test comes as stakeholders must now determine whether the overall deal should be supported.
In announcing the text release, USTR ambassador Michael Froman said the ultimate decision as to whether the United States leads on trade remains with America’s elected representatives. “We’ll continue to work closely with Congress and all stakeholders to ensure this agreement can begin delivering on its promise as soon as possible.”
The text includes annexes on the exclusions to rules secured by each country, bilateral deals with Japan, and more than 50 two-way agreements between the U.S. and other TPP countries covering hundreds of topics and products.
Kristina Butts, executive director of legislative affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., said for the rest of November and December industry groups and entities impacted by the trade agreement will start reviewing the full text now made available. For NCBA that will include an aggressive outreach to share with Congressional members and cattle producers about what the deal means for the industry.
“Asian markets provide a great opportunity to earn some value back for our cowherds as cuts and beef products that Asian consumers enjoy are not the same as the U.S. which adds value to each cow sold,” she said.
The National Farmers Union, who has been opposed to the trade deal because it doesn’t deal with currency manipulation, said that the agreement looks to be particularly bad for the nation’s ranchers. “The beef export opportunities are very modest. Japan included a snapback provision that will allow them to fully reinstate the current high levels of tariffs if it deems that beef imports are hurting its domestic farmers. Japan’s protection, coupled with the very generous access the U.S. gave the rest of the world, will likely push down domestic prices,” said NFU president Roger Johnson.
Pork producers continue to say TPP provides benefits dramatically exceeding those of prior trade agreements. “Without the TPP agreement, U.S. pork exports to the Pacific Rim region would be at a serious competitive disadvantage,” said National Pork Producers Council Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “Competitors such as the European Union, which are negotiating FTAs with countries in the region, will leap at the opportunity to fill the void that congressional delay would create. It is important that Congress act swiftly so that we don’t fall behind.”
Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation to require a new level of transparency for trade policy, as part of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act. The bill requires the President to make the text of the proposed TPP public for at least 60 days before the President may sign the agreement. That law also requires the President to notify Congress of his intent to sign TPP and send it to Congress at least 90 days in advance of doing so. The president cannot send TPP to Congress for its consideration until after he signs the agreement.