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, the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) ruling on the Mexican sugar case, and negotiations surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) have been working on an updated bipartisan bill to renew TPA and allow trade agreements to move quickly through Congress. The bill is expected to be introduced after the Easter recess in April.
TPA allows only an up-or-down vote in Congress on final trade agreements with no amendments. Last enacted in 2002, TPA legislation lapsed in 2007.
IDFA has been working with the Trade Benefits America coalition to educate and gain support for TPA. In early March, IDFA met with over 30 House offices to gather their support.
The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing last week on the “Importance of Trade to U.S. Agriculture.” The hearing focused mainly on passage of TPA with the goal of ensuring that agriculture gets the best deals possible from the ongoing TPP and T-TIP negotiations. The witnesses included Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation: Howard Hill, president, National Pork Producers Council; Pete Kappelman, chairman, International Trade Committee, National Milk Producers Federation; and Robert Guenther, senior vice president for public policy, United Fresh Produce Association.
Mexican Sugar Case
The U.S. International Trade Commission determined last week that the two suspension agreements between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the government of Mexico and Mexican sugar exporters have eliminated the “injurious effect” of sugar imports from Mexico on the U.S. food industry as a whole. The ITC vote means the suspension agreements finalized in December will remain in effect.
The Department of Commerce has yet to decide whether two sugar refiners, Imperial Sugar and AmCane, have the necessary standing to request the continuation of the investigations. If Imperial Sugar and AmCane are found to have standing, the anti-dumping and countervailing cases will resume and continue to final determinations. Until a final decision is announced, the suspension agreements will remain in effect.
A decision by Commerce is expected in early April.
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The chief negotiators for the 12 TPP partner countries met March 9-15 in Hawaii in an attempt to hash out the remaining issues ahead of the ministerial round scheduled for late May. Reports indicate that negotiators made progress on the issues of market access, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), intellectual property (IP) and rules of origin, in particular, during the meeting.
Some negotiations on market access are still underway, particularly between the United States and Japan on automotive issues and several sensitive agricultural products, including dairy. To date, Canada has not put forth an offer on dairy, poultry or eggs.
The prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, is set to visit Washington, D.C., in April to meet with President Obama. This meeting could be a turning point in bilateral negotiations between the United States and Japan.
Last week, the national dairy organizations of the United States, Australia and New Zealand issued a joint letter to their respective trade and agriculture officials, pressing for an ambitious, comprehensive and commercially meaningful outcome in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The dairy organizations specifically called for “significantly increased dairy market access” with Japan and Canada, two of the 12 partners in the treaty.
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)
The ninth round of negotiations between the United States and the European Union will be held the week of April 20 in Washington, D.C. At a stakeholder event on April 23, IDFA will give a presentation focusing on geographical indications (GIs) and common food names. The 10th round will be held in Brussels, Belgium, in July.
The top priorities for IDFA in the T-TIP negotiations include a reduction in tariffs and non-tariff barriers, stronger sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and protection for U.S. exporters to continue marketing common cheese names.
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.