TPP Trade Agreement Finalized After Dairy Talks

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2015 – The U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim
nations announced a landmark agreement to liberalize trade across 40% of the global economy after a last-minute push by New Zealand to
lower U.S. barriers to dairy imports.

The deal on the
Trans-Pacific Partnership, reached in a final round of negotiations in
Atlanta that stretched into the early morning Monday, will allow the
agreement to be submitted to Congress for approval early next year.

Details
of the agreement on issues such as agriculture were not made available
immediately, but it was clear that Canada successfully protected its
supply management system for dairy and poultry products. 

Discussions
on New Zealand's demands for increased access to the U.S. dairy market
weren't wrapped up until 5 a.m., said New Zealand's trade minister, Tim
Groser. According to U.S. dairy industry source, New Zealand raised the
demand Sunday to offset the lack of access it was getting under the deal
with Mexico and Canada.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael
Forman said tariffs on meat and poultry "would be eliminated, greatly
reduced, or quotas will be significantly increased.” He said the deal
also would open up "additional opportunities” for U.S. dairy products.

Summaries
released by the White House and Froman's office said the agreement
would provide “increased transparency and cooperation” on agricultural
biotechnology and would cut tariffs by 40% on U.S. poultry
products, 35% on soybeans, and 40% on fruit exports.

The
agreement also would ensure that “foreign regulations and agricultural
inspections are based on science, eliminating agricultural export
subsidies, and minimizing unpredictable export bans.”

In a joint
statement, the trade ministers of the 12 nations said the deal would
“support jobs, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development,
and promote innovation across the Asia-Pacific region.

“Most
importantly, the agreement achieves the goal we set forth of an
ambitious, comprehensive, high-standard, and balanced agreement that will
benefit our nations' citizens.”

Under terms of the Trade Promotion
Authority bill Congress passed this summer, the agreement must be made
public for at least 90 days before it can be signed. Froman said his
staff would be briefing lawmakers on the details in coming days and
talking to congressional leaders “to determine what is the best pathway”
for consideration of the agreement. TPA also allows Congress only an up
or down vote on the agreement, with no amendments.

Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack said the agreement would "eliminate or
significantly reduce tariffs on our products and deter nonscience- based
sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that have put American agriculture
at a disadvantage in TPP countries in the past. "Failing to grasp
this opportunity would be a mistake," Vilsack said. "Worse than just
losing out on potential gains, our producers would fall behind other
countries that are negotiating their own preferential arrangements in
TPP countries."

U.S. farm groups released statements that mostly said they were awaiting the details of the agreement.

The
American Sugar Alliance, which represents sugar producers, said it was
“cautiously optimistic” about the agreement, based on what U.S.
negotiators had told the group. Australia had been pushing for increased
access to the U.S. sugar market. 

In a joint statement, the National
Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council thanked
lawmakers for a flurry of letters they sent to Froman last week
supporting the industry's position. The groups said they would
“carefully review the agreement's dairy provisions in the coming days.”

New
Zealand's Groser didn't provide any details on what concessions his
country had won, but he said the agreement would “create opportunities”
for dairy farmers in New Zealand and Australia and help address global
market volatility.

Canada's trade minister, Ed Fast, said his
country had preserved the production, price, and import controls that
manage dairy and poultry supplies in Canada. Farmers “can now continue
to invest in their industry, grow their industry. That is an outcome
we're very pleased with.”

Besides the U.S., the TPP countries are:
Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico,
New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

By Phil Brasher, Agri-Pulse
For more news, go to Agri-Pulse.com.

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