TPP invitation extended to Mexico

Jun 22, 2012
TPP invitation extended to Mexico

President Barack Obama’s administration, along with eight other countries, last Monday formally invited Mexico to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations. In addition to the U.S., the current TPP countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

“We are delighted to invite Mexico, our neighbor and second largest export market, to join the TPP negotiations,” said Ambassador Ron Kirk of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). “Mexico’s interest in the TPP reflects its recognition that the TPP presents the most promising pathway to boosting trade across the Asia Pacific and to encouraging regional trade integration. We look forward to continuing consultations with the Congress and domestic stakeholders as we move forward.”

After Mexico expressed its interest in joining the TPP last November, the U.S. briefed Mexico about the status of the TPP negotiations and the high standards and objectives that TPP countries are seeking in the agreement. The U.S. also discussed with Mexico its ability to negotiate on issues that are a priority for the U.S. in the TPP. Mexico has assured the U.S. that it is prepared to conclude a high-standard agreement that will include issues that were not covered in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The administration is making plans to notify Congress of its intent to include Mexico in the TPP negotiations. The notification will trigger a 90-day consultation period with Congress on U.S. negotiating objectives with respect to Mexico. US- TR also will publish a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comments.

According to Kirk, TPP is a key element of the Obama administration’s efforts to support the creation and retention of high-quality jobs for Americans by increasing exports to the vibrant economies of the Asia- Pacific region. The U.S. and its TPP partners are determined to expeditiously complete a comprehensive, nextgeneration agreement.

The TPP countries have completed 12 rounds of negotiations and the nine countries have made solid progress. The next round of negotiations is scheduled to take place July 2–10 in San Diego, CA.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President and Texas cattleman Bob McCan commended the announcement and issued the following statement.

“Mexico is our secondlargest export market and their participation in these negotiations is paramount. TPP has the potential to be the beginning of a new era in global trade where tariff and non-tariff barriers are eliminated and standards are based on sound, objective science instead of political protectionism. This agreement could likely become much more than a multilateral free trade agreement.

Eliminating tariff and nontariff barriers promotes greater economic stability and job creation in all countries, which will strengthen bonds between nations and encourage global security in the Pacific Rim.

“NCBA encourages the United States to push for full and free market access to all TPP countries. NCBA wants prices to be determined by market demand instead of being inflated by protectionist trade barriers, which is one of the greatest hindrances to U.S. beef trade. Specifically, U.S. beef has been subject to nonscience based standards in multiple countries for many years. This has been very disruptive for the U.S. beef industry and has caused an enormous amount of damage to U.S. beef trade.

“We cannot afford to perpetuate politically-motivat ed

standards as a justification for public safety. All TPP countries must agree to and abide by the highest sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards possible, in accordance with the World Trade Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health. Mexico being a part of this historic agreement is a victory for global trade and for all U.S. cattle ranchers.”

But the TPP plans with Mexico are not without controversy. According to reports, a recently leaked U.S.

document with the proposed terms has caused some concern, with claims that they include granting corporations the ability to bypass U.S. public interest laws and regulations in courts, allowing the corporations to appeal directly to international tribunals.

The U.S. has granted corporations similar powers under trade pacts extending back to the 1993 NAFTA with Mexico and Canada.

Although Mexico does not have trade agreements with several of the countries involved in the TPP talks, it does have deals with Peru, Chile and the U.S. NAFTA already allows for trade without tariffs between the U.S. and Mexico, creating concern among some public interest groups that the Trans-Pacific deal will establish broader deregulation.

Last week, USTR issued a statement declaring that, “Nothing in our TPP investment proposal could impair our government’s ability to pursue legitimate, non-discriminatory public interest regulation, including measures to protect public health, public safety and the environment.”

Mexico, along with Canada and Japan, expressed interest last November in joining the TPP talks. The nine current TPP members have been discussing the countries’ applications since.

Japan’s possible entry is still uncertain because of doubts that Tokyo is really prepared to open its auto, agriculture and services markets to foreign competitors.

Canada’s application has been stalled over the country’s willingness to negotiate changes to its agricultural supply management programs.

But Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper hinted last Monday that he expected good news to follow, relating to his country’s bid.

“We’re delighted that the Americans and others have indicated an interest in seeing Canada join the Trans- Pacific Partnership,” Harper said. —

Traci Eatherton,