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 (T-TIP), the antidumping and countervailing duties cases involving Mexican sugar, and country-of-origin labeling (COOL).
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Leaders of participating countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing earlier this month. Although a timeline for conclusion was not announced, they released a statement that said the countries see “the end coming into focus” and included instructions to negotiators to “make concluding this agreement a top priority.” The trade ministers also issued a report highlighting the progress made.
Between the U.S and Japan, dairy is still a challenge in the market access chapter. Japan has officially shared offers on market access with the other TPP countries. Japan’s economy recently slid into a recession, and Prime Minister Abe announced national elections next month. This could be the kick that propels much-needed reforms within Japan, but it could also complicate and slow down the TPP negotiations.
IDFA continues to press for a comprehensive agreement that includes real market access for all dairy products, across all tariff lines. Improving access to the Japanese and Canadian markets for U.S. dairy products remains a high priority.
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)
Since the seventh round of negotiations in early October, talks have lagged between the European Union and the United States since the new EU Commission took office in early November. The new EU trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman this week in Brussels, Belgium. Malmstrom and Froman are expected to take stock of the negotiations in December in Washington D.C.
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
IDFA, along with 200 other business and agriculture groups, signed a coalition letter to Congress last week asking for passage of TPA by the end of this year. The letter points out that “Congressional action on TPA is needed to help ensure high-standard outcomes in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations,” as well as other agreements that are currently being negotiated such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a new trade initiative focused exclusively on service industries.
Passage of TPA is unlikely in the lame duck session of Congress, but with the change in the leadership of the Senate, there is an opportunity in the first quarter of 2015 for the legislation to come up for a vote. IDFA will continue to work with the Trade Benefits America coalition to educate current and new members on the importance of trade and TPA.
Sugar Antidumping and Countervailing Duties Cases
The Sweetener Users Association (SUA) and IDFA submitted comments yesterday on the draft Commerce Department suspension agreements with Mexico.
IDFA’s comments focused on five main points:
- the agreements constitute managed trade, in sharp contrast to the spirit and letter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);
- the proposed suspension agreements short-circuit the normal legal process under antidumping and countervailing duty law;
- the agreements pile quotas on top of quotas;
- the agreements calculate the quota with a bias toward tight supplies; and
- the agreements need to be changed in order to be in the public interest.
Media outlets report that the World Trade Organization's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) has moved up the date for the United States to appeal the WTO panel ruling in the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) case from December 18 to November 28.
IDFA is a member of the COOL Reform Coalition, which promotes reforms to the COOL requirements to ensure that they are compliant with international trade obligations. The coalition is building awareness that the WTO ruling against the United States authorizes Mexico and Canada to retaliate broadly against all U.S. exports, including U.S dairy products.
For more information, visit www.coolreform.com.
China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) Concluded
After ten years of negotiations, Australia announced on Monday the conclusion of a free trade agreement with China. Key outcomes of the agreement include the removal of all tariffs on Australian dairy products exported to China within four to 11 years.
The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) welcomed the deal with China, stating “the FTA will strengthen Australian dairy’s competitiveness by providing our industry with a significant advantage compared to other countries in the market that do not have a FTA with China.”
After a legal scrub and translation of the text, the two countries are expected to sign the agreement in 2015.
For more information, contact Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org.