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Trade News: TTIP Talks Continue, IDFA Supports TPA and NAFTA Turns 20

Dec 18, 2013

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 the World Trade Organization’s first-ever multilateral trade deal, the negotiations surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Trade Promotion Authority and the North American Free Trade Agreement 20 years later.


World Trade Organization (WTO)
Members of the WTO concluded talks earlier this month on the first multilateral trade deal since the WTO’s inception 18 years ago. Known as the Bali Package, the deal tackled a few development issues, but the agreement on trade facilitation is viewed as the biggest gain for all 159 members of the WTO. A legally binding agreement, “the trade facilitation decision is a multilateral deal to simplify customs procedures by reducing costs and improving their speed and efficiency,” the statement issued by the WTO said. IDFA member companies that export dairy products will benefit greatly from more uniform customs procedures at the border.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The ministers of the 12 TPP countries met in Singapore earlier this month. Although the goal to conclude the deal by the end of 2013 wasn’t met, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman deemed it a successful meeting. Negotiations on market access are still underway, particularly with Japan on its sensitive products – dairy, rice, sugar, barley and wheat, pork and beef. The ministers will meet again in January, but the date and location have not been determined. South Korea 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) began this week in Washington, D.C. Top priorities for IDFA include a reduction in tariffs and non-tariff barriers, such as regulatory barriers, and protection for U.S. exporters to continue marketing generic cheese names. The European Union’s strategy on geographical indications (GIs) is a de facto trade barrier that aims to limit U.S. competition

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
TPA legislation will likely be introduced in early January 2014. TPA is an important piece of legislation that must be renewed before the TPP and TTIP agreements are able to conclude. It was last enacted in 2002 but lapsed in 2007. TPA ensures Congressional input on trade negotiations and protects Congress’ oversight authority by mandating specific and extensive consultations with the Executive Branch before, during and after trade negotiations. But after agreements are negotiated, TPP allows Congress only an up-or-down vote. IDFA has joined a coalition, Trade Benefits America, to gain support for TPA in Congress.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
NAFTA will celebrate its 20-year anniversary on January 1, 2014. Under NAFTA, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have tripled and quintupled, respectively. Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. dairy products. Exports of U.S. dairy products to Mexico rose from $250 million in 1993 to over $1.2 billion in 2012.

Darci Vetter Nominated as Chief U.S. Agricultural Negotiator
According to The Hagstrom Report, President Barack Obama announced plans yesterday to nominate Darci Vetter to fill the position of chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Vetter, Agriculture deputy undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services, would replace Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, who recently announced plans to step down.

For more information, contact Hughes at bhughes@idfa.org.

 
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