Trans Pacific Partnership negotiators are in Atlanta, Ga., this week to discuss and potentially finalize a trade deal between 11 Pacific Rim countries and the U.S.
The negotiations, which have been ongoing for more than five years now, are moving forward following a July meeting in Hawaii and a vote earlier this year to approve the bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority bill.
Ag groups have been closely watching the developments as some of the sticking points are related to agriculture, specifically dairy, rice and sugar.
According to Kent Baucus, director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a key hope for the beef industry is that tariffs are limited or lifted to Japan, the largest export market for U.S. beef. Baucus said in an NCBA interview that U.S. beef is assessed a 38% tariff into Japan.
The group is also concerned about the speed of the deal. Baucus said they're hopeful that a quality agreement can be concluded this fall, and time limited due to other agreements among TPP countries.
"Every day that TPP is not concluded and set into action is another day we're going to be behind," Baucus said, citing agreements other countries have developed outside of the TPP. "We really, really need our negotiators to go ahead and solidify a good agreement, something that we can support."
TPP negotiating objectives
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released a new summary of TPP objectives earlier this month to develop greater transparency for Congress and the public, it said. The objectives document is in line with provisions required as part of the TPA.
"We have taken Congress's marching orders through bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority and our ongoing consultations seriously and are following through on delivering the high standard deal Congress and the American people expect," U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman said in a press statement.
Transparency officer Tim Reif noted that the USTR office is working to "build a more open and transparent negotiation process" through stakeholder input.
According to the objectives document, key goals of the deal are to support American jobs, eliminate tariffs as broadly as possible, achieve new market access, address non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports and more.
On a key issue for agriculture, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, U.S. TPP goals include developing new ways to resolve unwanted barriers and improve transparent communication regarding SPS.
Read the full document, The Trans-Pacific Partnership, detailed summary of U.S. objectives on the USTR website.