Agriculture groups support U.S. trade promotion bill

by World Grain Staff
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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Several U.S. agriculture organizations said on Jan. 10 that they support new the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that would give the president “fast-track” authority to negotiate trade deals.

The legislation was introduced by bipartisan leaders in both the U.S. House and Senate — Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus; Ranking Member Orin Hatch; and House Ways and Means Committee Chair David Camp — and is expected to be the first of several bills to emerge on the issue. If restored, TPA would allow the administration to bring final negotiated trade agreements to Congress for an up or down vote with no amendments. 

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) said the passage of a TPA bill is important to the U.S. feed industry as U.S. Trade Representative comes closer to concluding negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and digs deeper into current negotiations with the European Union on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), two trade agreements that will have great benefits to the industry.

“The future growth of the U.S. feed industry lies in exports, whether it be directly, or indirectly through meat and dairy exports, and the feed industry needs the support of the administration to remove barriers to trade and enforce trade rules,” said Gina Tumbarello, AFIA manager of international trade. “The most opportunistic path for this is through free trade agreements such as Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union.”  

TPP addresses new and emerging trade issues such as the as elimination of many non-tariff trade barriers, i.e. incompatible biotech and food and feed sanitation regulations. While U.S. exports to the Asia-Pacific region have grown, the share of U.S. trade in the region has declined relative to other countries due to many countries in the region having bilateral or regional free trade agreements (FTAs) that give their exporters an advantage over their U.S. competitors. While the U.S. already has bilateral agreements with six of the 12 TPP partners, TPP is a means to level the playing field for U.S.

Wheat growers also expressed support for the legislation. The directors of National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) recently passed a resolution supporting passage of TPA “as an essential tool for negotiating market-opening free trade agreements,” including the 12 country TPP and the U.S. and European Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP talks. 

“Our competitors are moving fast and with success to sign beneficial trade agreements,” said Dan Hughes, a wheat farmer from Venango, Nebraska, U.S., and USW chairman. “TPA would give our trade negotiators a unified voice and the power to push for the best deal for U.S. farmers, businesses and workers. Without TPA, we risk falling farther and farther behind in a growing international market.” 

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) said the TPA legislation sets out clear negotiating principles for adequately dealing with the trade barriers facing the grain, feed and grain processing industry.

"In addition to providing increased market access, NGFA is hopeful that this next generation of trade agreements will strengthen current protocols on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, including inclusion of a rapid-response mechanism for challenging and quickly resolving non-science-based SPS barriers to trade," said NGFA Director of Legislative Affairs Jared Hill. 

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