Mexico A Welcome Partner
President Obama announced Monday an invitation for Mexico to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, a trade agreement which could bolster the reach of the TPP negotiations for U.S. agriculture, according to Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation president.
National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vice President Bob McCan said the agreement also has the potential to strengthen trade and eliminate "non-science based" trade standards.
"Mexico is our second-largest export market and their participation in these negotiations is paramount. TPP has the potential to be the beginning of a new era in global trade where tariff and non-tariff barriers are eliminated and standards are based on sound, objective science instead of political protectionism, McCan said.
The Farm Bureau said $17 billion in sales to Mexico in 2011 is nothing to sneeze at.
"Mexico is crucial to U.S. agriculture. Both our nations will benefit by having Mexico as a TPP partner and sharing in expanded market access with TPP nations," Stallman said in a statement Tuesday.
McCan said the potential benefits to the agreement could strengthen bonds between nations and encourage global security.
"This agreement could likely become much more than a multi-lateral free trade agreement. Eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers promotes greater economic stability and job creation in all countries," he said.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also stressed the possibility of job creation as a result of TPP agreements.
"For decades, two-way agricultural trade between Mexico and the United States has supported American communities by creating good-paying jobs here in the United States. Mexico's participation in TPP will allow U.S. agriculture to leverage existing supply chains, adding to the economic significance of a TPP agreement," Vilsack said.
NCBA is encouraging the United States to secure full and free market access to all TPP countries, which would cause prices to be determined by market demand, and not trade barriers, which McCan called "the greatest hindrances to U.S. beef trade."
McCan said non-science based standards in multiple countries have caused an enormous amount of damage to U.S. beef trade.
"We cannot afford to perpetuate politically-motivated standards as a justification for public safety. All TPP countries must agree to and abide by the highest sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards possible, in accordance with the World Trade Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health. Mexico being a part of this historic agreement is a victory for global trade and for all U.S. cattle ranchers," McCan said.
Stallman said Mexico's efforts to address the sanitary and phyto-sanitary trade issues with the U.S. signals a willingness to participate in negotiations.
"It's important that new entrants to the TPP recognize this is a comprehensive agreement and that individual sectors should not be excluded from the negotiation."
Canada Joins In Too
Despite criticism for its agricultural subsidy programs in recent months, President Obama announced Wednesday an invitation for Canada to join TPP talks, a prospect that McCan called a "win-win."
"Canada's entry into TPP negotiations will only strengthen our trade relationship. Their participation in TPP is absolutely vital to creating a trade environment free from protectionist trade barriers," McCan said.
However, earlier this month the National Pork Producers Council formally asked Canada to discontinue pork subsidies before entering into TPP talks. NPPC says those subsidies adversely affect the U.S. hog trade.
"The Canadian subsidy programs distort the North American hog and pork market, limiting the growth of U.S. production, employment and profitability," said Doug Wolf, NPPC's immediate past president and chairman of its trade committee. "Canada's entry into the TPP negotiations should be contingent on renunciation of its trade-distorting subsidies."
Joining Mexico and Canada in the TPP talks are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.