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Trade News Update: T-TIP Talks in Twelfth Round

Mar 16, 2016

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

 Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

The 12th round of negotiations between the United States and the European Union was held the final week of February in Brussels. Tariff offers were not exchanged this round, but previous offers proposed eliminating 87.5 percent of all tariffs immediately upon the enactment of T-TIP. The EU’s tariff offer is conditional upon the U.S. extending protections for geographical indications (GIs) to cheese.

Along with more protection for GIs, key EU priorities include more access to the U.S. government procurement market and a more innovative approach to regulatory cooperation.

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.

Ambassador Michael Froman and his EU counterpart, Cecilia Malmstrom held stocktaking meetings this week and last to assess the negotiation and forward progress, and a 13th round of negotiations will likely be held in April.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

On February 4, the 12 partner countries signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The signatures do not mean that a vote in Congress is imminent; they now prompt the U.S. administration to present Congress with a description of changes to U.S. law needed to implement TPP. The deadline for the description is April 2016. Also under the Trade Promotion Authority timeline, the International Trade Commission must release its report on the impact of TPP by May 18.

IDFA submitted comments in February supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement “on balance” arguing that TPP cannot become the template for future free trade agreements. The comments praised the U.S. negotiators for important breakthroughs on geographical indications and fully enforceable sanitary and phytosanitary rules, but also expressed disappointment with the extremely limited market access gains for U.S. dairy in Canada and Japan.

There are several sectors that are unhappy with the outcome of TPP, including the pharmaceutical industry and the tobacco industry. Unless there are changes made to address the concerns of these sectors, many Members of Congress, including the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hatch (R- UT), have said they will not vote in favor of the deal. Congress is unlikely to take a vote on TPP until after the November election.

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