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TPP negotiators reach deal, push for approval

ATLANTA - Pacific trade ministers have reached a deal on the most sweeping trade liberalization pact in a generation that will cut trade barriers and set common standards for 12 countries, an official familiar with the talks said on Monday.

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Agweek

ATLANTA - Pacific trade ministers have reached a deal on the most sweeping trade liberalization pact in a generation that will cut trade barriers and set common standards for 12 countries, an official familiar with the talks said on Monday.

Leaders from a dozen Pacific Rim nations are poised to announce the pact later on Monday. The deal could reshape industries and influence everything from the price of cheese to the cost of cancer treatments.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership would affect 40 percent of the world economy and would stand as a legacy-defining achievement for President Barack Obama, if it is ratified by Congress.

Lawmakers in other TPP countries must also approve the deal.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement following the successful conclusion of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

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"An agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations provides a more level playing field in trade for American farmers. The agreement would eliminate or significantly reduce tariffs on our products and deter non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that have put American agriculture at a disadvantage in TPP countries in the past. Despite these past barriers, countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently account for up to 42 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports, totaling $633 billion. Thanks to this agreement and its removal of unfair trade barriers, American agricultural exports to the region will expand even further, particularly exports of meat, poultry, dairy, fruits, vegetables, grains, oilseeds, cotton and processed products.

"Increased demand for American agricultural products and expanded agricultural exports as a result of this agreement will support stronger commodity prices and increase farm income. Increased exports under TPP will create more good paying export-related jobs, further strengthening the rural economy. Today, agricultural trade supports more than 1 million jobs here at home and contributes a trade surplus year after year to our nation's economy. All of this activity benefits rural communities and keeps American agriculture on the cutting edge of global commerce. The TPP agreement will contribute to the future strength of American agriculture and helps to ensure that the historic agricultural trade gains achieved under President Obama since 2009 will continue.

"The TPP agreement would not be possible without the extraordinary efforts of the negotiating team at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, assisted by the dedicated staff of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service and the Office of the Chief Economist. I'd also like to thank the formal trade advisors and experts from agricultural commodity groups who provided valuable market information and creative proposals to better inform U.S. negotiators. Collectively, their efforts have led to a strong deal for American agriculture.

"Failing to grasp this opportunity would be a mistake: 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. We are committed to working with Congress within the framework of the recently-passed Trade Promotion Authority to obtain a strong bipartisan understanding of and support for this historic trade deal that benefits farmers, ranchers, and all those who live, work and raise families in rural communities."

The final round of negotiations in Atlanta, which began on Wednesday, had snared on the question of how long a monopoly period should be allowed on next-generation biotech drugs, until the United States and Australia negotiated a compromise.

The TPP deal has been controversial because of the secret negotiations that have shaped it over the past five years and the perceived threat to an array of interest groups from Mexican auto workers to Canadian dairy farmers.

Although the complex deal sets tariff reduction schedules on hundreds of imported items from pork and beef in Japan to pickup trucks in the United States, one issue had threatened to derail talks until the end – the length of the monopolies awarded to the developers of new biological drugs.

Negotiating teams had been deadlocked over the question of the minimum period of protection to the rights for data used to make biologic drugs, made by companies including Pfizer Inc, Roche Group’s Genentech and Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.

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The United States had sought 12 years of protection to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in expensive biological treatments like Genentech’s cancer treatment Avastin. Australia, New Zealand and public health groups had sought a period of five years to bring down drug costs and the burden on state-subsidized medical programs.

Negotiators agreed on a compromise on minimum terms that was short of what U.S. negotiators had sought and that would effectively grant biologic drugs a period of about years free from the threat of competition from generic versions, people involved in the closed-door talks said.

The Washington, D.C.-based Biotechnology Industry Association said it was “very disappointed” by reports that U.S. negotiators had not been able to convince Australia and other TPP members to adopt the 12-year standard approved by Congress.

“We will carefully review the entire TPP agreement once the text is released by the ministers,” the industry lobby said in a statement.

A politically charged set of issues surrounding protections for dairy farmers was also addressed in the final hours of talks, officials said. New Zealand, home to the world's biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra, wanted increased access toU.S., Canadian and Japanese markets.

Separately, the United States, Mexico, Canada and Japan also agreed rules governing the auto trade that dictate how much of a vehicle must be made within the TPP region in order to qualify for duty-free status.

The North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico mandates that vehicles have a local content of 62.5 percent. The way that rule is implemented means that just over half of a vehicle needs to be manufactured locally. It has been credited with driving a boom in auto-related in investment in Mexico.

The TPP would give Japan's automakers, led by Toyota MotorCorp., a freer hand to buy parts from Asia for vehicles sold in the United States but sets long phase-out periods for U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars and light trucks.

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The TPP deal being readied for expected announcement on Monday also sets minimum standards on issues ranging from workers' rights to environmental protection. It also sets up dispute settlement guidelines between governments and foreign investors separate from national courts.

 

 

 

 

 

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