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All Eyes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

July 13, 2015

By: Melissa San Miguel, Director, Global Strategies

Trade wonks (I’m one) sometimes joke that trade is a hot topic in U.S. public conversation about one week every five years – we’ve definitely exceeded expectations this year.

After more than a month of robust debate and some wild votes in the House and the Senate, the Congress came together to pass bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which President Obama signed into law on June 29.  This was a vital step – and one that the Grocery Manufacturers (GMA) supported – because, as I wrote last month, TPA is critical for ensuring the United States can secure ambitious trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will allow U.S. food, beverage, and consumer product manufacturers to access new markets, grow their businesses, and compete fairly in global markets.

Now, all eyes turn to the negotiators painstakingly working through the remaining issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  The United States is negotiating the TPP with 11 of the world’s most dynamic economies to provide new and meaningful market access for American goods and services exports and also to set high-standard rules 21st-century issues in the global economy.  TPP partners are some of the biggest current and potential growth markets for exports of U.S. food, beverages, and consumer products.  While nearly 70 percent of imports already enter the United States duty-free, U.S. products face steep tariffs that the TPP will eliminate or reduce dramatically (USTR reports that American agriculture exports face tariffs over 700 percent in some TPP countries).

TPP ministers will meet in Hawaii at the end of July, and hopes are high for strong momentum going into that meeting.  Last month, Australian trade minister Andrew Robb told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the countries were “literally one week of negotiation away from completing this extraordinary deal.”  With some tough issues still on the table (including barriers to U.S. agricultural export imposed by some key TPP partners), Robb’s estimate might be too optimistic, but U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman recently told Politico he was aiming to conclude the negotiations before fall.

Either way, I have my fingers crossed that trade will get a few more weeks in the spotlight before the end of the year.



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