TPP talks make progress

Dec 13, 2013

Last week, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) held a press conference to share what they are touting as “substantial progress” in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

“The TPP is the most significant trade negotiation in a generation, and promises significant economic benefits for American businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers and service providers,” USTR said in a statement.

Countries involved include the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

USTR representatives shared benefits of the partnership, claiming global income benefits by 2025 are estimated at $223 billion per year and real income benefit to the United States of $77 billion per year. U.S. export benefits are expected to reach $3.3 billion for beef and $4.3 for pork.

“Over the course of this meeting, we identified potential ‘landing zones’ for the majority of key outstanding issues in the text. We will continue to work with flexibility to finalize these text issues, as well as market access issues,” USTR representatives said in their joint statement.

“For all TPP countries, an ambitious, comprehensive and high standard agreement that achieves the goals established in Honolulu in 2011 is critical for creating jobs and promoting growth, providing opportunity for our citizens and contributing to regional integration and the strengthening of the multilateral trading system.”

During a press conference from Singapore, Ambassador Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative, said that agriculture comes up in various parts of negotiations.

“There are rules and disciplines around agriculture, including in the goods chapter and also in what we call SPS, sanitary and phytosanitary standards. And 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,” Froman said.

Negotiations over the TPP were supposed to be finalized last week in Singapore. Despite the touted “progress,” the four days of talks in Singapore ended with no signatures or resolutions. The only agreement appears to be to talk about it more later. According to a Russian radio station, the lack of agreement may very well be because of the U.S.

But the negotiations are set to continue. “Following additional work by negotiators, we intend to meet again next month,” the group shared.

TPP supporters say the free trade agreement between the countries, when finished, will eliminate tariffs on goods and services, boosting economic stability and harmonizing regulations.

The countries involved include some of the U.S.’ biggest commercial partners, such as Japan and Korea. With $1.5 trillion worth of traded goods in 2012, and $242 billion worth of services in 2011, the countries involved in the discussions are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s GDP. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor