WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators are continuing quiet bilateral discussions, with the Canadian elections scheduled for Oct. 19 and the intensifying U.S. presidential race adding new pressure to an already challenging calendar.
“In 2014, the U.S. had Congressional elections and Japan had parliamentary elections. That gave the two largest economies involved in the talks a year to act before a new election cycle again complicated the talks,” said Floyd Gaibler, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) director of trade policy and biotechnology.
“But barring a last-minute deal in the near future, the opportunity is going to be missed even with trade promotion authority legislation passed here at home.”
Despite the most recent impasse in reaching a deal, talks continue. In addition to the ongoing discussions among negotiators, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman took advantage of this week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur to meet senior representatives of several TPP participants, including Australia, Brunei, Malaysia and New Zealand. The White House also announced that President Barack Obama had again discussed the TPP negotiations with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week by telephone.
“It is important to see the high-level commitment continue, but we continue to be concerned about the time available to actually get a deal done,” Gaibler said.
“Under TPA, there are statutory requirements for extensive Congressional and public comment after a tentative deal is reached. Even if a deal were signed tomorrow, there is no longer time to get it passed this year. And in a presidential election year, all bets are off.”
A high-quality agreement reducing tariffs and expanding market access for U.S. agricultural products is a longstanding objective of the council. The council also anticipates that a high-standard agreement will reduce non-tariff trade barriers related to sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, including biotechnology.