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Trade News: TPA Passes Senate & House Committees, Possible Vote in May

Apr 29, 2015

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 and negotiations surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).


Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
Last week the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee approved “The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015” (TPA-2015).

The Senate Finance Committee approved TPA-2015 by a vote of 20-6. The Senators who voted no were: Burr, Schumer, Stabenow, Menendez, Brown, and Casey.

Three amendments were adopted:

  • Cardin Amendment # 1: Passed (by 26-0).  It would add a TPA negotiating objective (that only applies to the T-TIP negotiations) designed to enhance U.S.-Israel trade (by discouraging any E.U. actions that would limit international trade with Israel or impact U.S. commercial relations with it).
  • Cardin Amendment # 7:Passed (by voice vote). It would elevate the bill’s human rights/good governance negotiating objective from an overall goal to a principal goal.
  • Menendez Amendment # 1: Passed (by 15-11).  It would prohibit TPA/“fast-track” application to trade agreements with any country that does not take sufficient government action to combat human trafficking according to an annual U.S. State Department report (such countries include TPP participant Malaysia, as well as countries like Algeria, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Thailand, etc.). 
  • Many other amendments were offered and either failed or were withdrawn.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved TPA-2015 by a vote of 25-13. All Republicans joined by Reps. Kind (D-WI) and Blumenauer (D-OR) voted for it.

Two amendments were adopted:

  • The committee approved an amendment making two of the three TPA bill changes made by Senate Finance (i.e., Sen. Cardin amendments on U.S.-Israel commercial relations AND on the bill’s human rights/good governance objective). The committee did not take up the Senate Finance-approved Menendez amendment on human trafficking.
  • No other amendments to the TPA bill passed. 

IDFA issued a statement applauding the House and Senate Committees for advancing the Trade Promotion Authority Bill. According to a report in Politico Pro, the bill could reach the Senate and House for a vote in early May. With the House in recess the week of May 4, it is likely the Senate vote will go first.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The chief negotiators for the 12 TPP partner countries met April 23-26 in National Harbor, Md. 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.

Media reports have downplayed the visit of Japan’s prime minister to Washington D.C. this past week.  The meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Obama was once seen as a possible turning point in bilateral negotiations between the United States and Japan. But, with a pending vote on Trade Promotion Authority in Congress, the two trading partners were unable to announce a final deal on outstanding issues.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)
The ninth round of negotiations between the United States and the European Union were held April 20-24 in New York City. Opening remarks by the U.S. and E.U. chief negotiators cited “productive engagement on some of the key regulatory areas.”

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is expected to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman when she visits Washington, D.C. on May 4.

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.

The 10th round of negotiations is expected to be held in Brussels, Belgium, in mid-July.

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at bhughes@idfa.org.

 
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