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Trade News: Trade Negotiations Progressing Slowly

Mar 19, 2014

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 (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).


Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
Progress on TPA has yet to move since Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) took over as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Wyden has been noncommittal on possible changes to the bill that was introduced in January and timing for moving it forward. The Administration has been increasing its efforts to get Democrats on board but with mid-term elections in November, TPA may resurface in the lame duck session but most likely will be pushed to 2015.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The TPP ministers met in February in Singapore but progress on several issues is still elusive.  Negotiations with Japan on market access for dairy and other agricultural products it deems sensitive – rice, sugar, beef and pork, and wheat and barley – have stalled. Access for dairy into the Canadian market has also stalled. At The Atlantic’s Economy Summit, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman said, “The fact that we don’t have a TPP agreement right now is in fact tied to the fact that we’re insisting on agricultural access both in Japan and to Canada.” 

The timetable for the conclusion of TPP is up in the air. Previously, many thought Obama’s visit to Asia in April would be the opportunity to close the deal but the administration is backing away from that deadline. 

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
As the fourth round of TTIP talks began in Brussels last week, over half of the Senate signed a bipartisan letter to USTR Michael Froman and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to push back against the European Union’s (EU) effort to restrict U.S. dairy companies from using commonly used cheese names such as parmesan and feta. The letter coauthored by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), urged USTR and USDA to reject any attempt the EU is seeking in the context of the TTIP negotiations to claim exclusive use of common cheese names abroad and in the U.S. domestic market. 

Initial tariff offers were presented by both sides last month. The EU was less than thrilled with the U.S. offer, calling it less ambitious than the EU’s offer. The U.S. would like to see elimination of all tariffs while the EU would like protection for certain sensitive sectors. 

Last week, USTR released a detailed view of the TTIP negotiation objectives and encouraged comments from the public. The fifth round of talks will be held in Washington DC before the summer.

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

 

 
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