Mexico and Canada cleared for trade group; Japan pending
Farm Bureau hailed approval of Mexico and Canada as new negotiating parties in theTrans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as Japan continues to wait
Published: Jun 23, 2012
Farm Bureau last week hailed approval of Mexico and Canada as new negotiating parties in the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as Japan continues to wait in the wings.
The U.S. neighbors join the U.S., Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam in talks aimed at developing a major east-west trade pact.
The U.S. already has separate free trade agreements with several TPP nations, but American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) trade specialist David Salmonsen said other current partners offer little in terms of U.S. ag export potential. The addition of Mexico and prospective partners Canada and Japan “would make this a much bigger deal,” he told FarmWeek.
As the U.S.’ third largest ag export market, with $17 billion-plus in 2011 sales, Mexico should “bolster the reach of the TPP negotiations for U.S. agriculture,” AFBF President Bob Stallman argued. The U.S. and Mexico can play a key role in strengthening sanitary/phytosanitary (SPS/health and safety) standards and expanding market access, Stallman said.
Canada is the second-largest export market, with more than $18 billion in sales in 2011.
At the same time, Stallman stressed that new parties to the TPP must recognize “that this a comprehensive agreement,” and that individual trade sectors should not be excluded from negotiations. Mexico’s efforts to address longstanding SPS issues with the U.S. “signals a willingness to participate in a comprehensive negotiation,” he said.
A unanimous vote is required to admit new TPP partners. Salmonsen noted some existing partners seek to complete negotiations before adding new countries, while others argue potential partners “want to get in while negotiations are still going on.”
“Canada and Mexico have really wanted in,” he said. “We don’t know if Japan, which everyone sees as the ‘bigger prize’ -- the country that has changes to make in its import restrictions -- is in a position to really push to get in.
“They’ve said they’re interested, but they’re dealing with their nuclear issue, and their government’s pushing this big consumption tax to pay for all these things they’re going to have to do in the wake of their (2011) earthquake and tsunami. They have a lot of other issues going on.”
Ag market access likely will be addressed later in TPP talks, he said. However, Salmonsen cited current discussion of SPS issues, with some proposals “even going beyond” existing World Trade Organization standards.
“We’re pushing to make things even more science-based, a little tighter, so we can have more predictability and transparency in what countries do with food safety standards, so they don’t operate as trade barriers,” Salmonsen said.
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