Trade News is a periodic update that provides a concise compilation of current trade happenings and their impact on the dairy industry. This week's column by Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, discusses progress on Trade Promotion Authority, negotiations surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Senate nominations affecting trade.
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
TPA legislation was introduced in early January 2014 by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). The bill includes several key negotiating objectives, such as the reduction or elimination of tariffs, robust rules on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and preventing the improper use of geographical indications, all of which make it easier and less costly for U.S. dairy companies to compete globally.
IDFA signed a letter to Chairmen Baucus and Camp and Ranking Member Hatch in support of the bill and also issued a press release. Although a Senate hearing was held last week, it is unclear when the bill will be voted on. Supporters are optimistic that it will be passed before the end of the first quarter.
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The ministers of the 12 TPP countries met in Singapore in December. Although the goal to conclude the deal by the end of 2013 wasn’t met, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman stated “substantial progress” was made and “potential landing zones for the majority of key outstanding issues in the text” were identified. The ministers will meet again in February, but the date and location have not been determined.
Negotiations on market access are still underway, particularly with Japan on its sensitive products – dairy, rice, sugar, barley and wheat, pork and beef. IDFA joined 16 other agriculture associations in a letter to Froman in December, restating the position that TPP must be a comprehensive agreement that includes all agricultural products.
South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines have recently expressed interest in joining TPP.
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
The third round of negotiations between the U.S. and the European Union (EU) was held in December in Washington, D.C. Negotiators met on a wide variety of issues, including services, government procurement, energy and raw materials, sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, intellectual property rights, labor and trade issues, textiles, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and regulatory coherence. Negotiating text has not been introduced but offers on tariffs are expected in early 2014.
European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht announced yesterday plans to consult with the European public on the investment provisions to be included in the TTIP. Negotiations between the EU and the United States are not expected to be affected.
The fourth round likely will be held in March in Brussels, Belgium, after De Gucht and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman participate in an exercise, currently scheduled for February, to take stock of the important issues on each side.
In related news, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro will step down from her position next month after four years of service. She played a prominent role in launching the TTIP discussions with the European Union, implementing trade agreements with Panama and Colombia, strengthening U.S. economic engagement with the Middle East and establishing permanent normal trade relations with Russia.
Chairman Max Baucus Nomination Hearing Set
According to Politico Pro, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled a hearing on January 28 regarding the nomination of Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), current chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to be the next U.S. ambassador to China. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is expected to fill the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee.
For more information, contact Hughes, at firstname.lastname@example.org.