USTR Says 'Important Progress' Made on TPP

USTR Says 'Important Progress' Made on TPP

Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiators spend 10 days mulling issues on possible trade deal

Negotiators working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership over the last 10 days have made "important progress" across a range of issues, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said Wednesday.

According to Barbara Weisel, the United States' chief negotiator on TPP, country representatives have committed to a work plan that will expedite progress on a completing a final deal.

During the negotiation session in Hanoi, Vietnam, the countries successfully resolved many issues and narrowed gaps in other areas, the USTR office reports. The teams also made important progress on State-owned enterprises, intellectual property, investment, rules of origin, transparency and anti-corruption, and labor.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks as he participates in a discussion to promote the United States as the premier destination for business investment last year in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Related: TPP Wrangling Continues as 140 Legislators Say 'No Deal' with Japan

Through the TPP, the United States is working to establish a trade and investment framework in the Asia-Pacific region that will support trade and U.S. jobs.

The U.S. is also taking steps to establish rules that promote American values like transparency and good governance, along with enforceable labor and environmental standards.

The United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are the countries represented in the potential trade agreement.

Related: Hold Japan’s Feet To The Fire On TPP

Though the USTR indicates progress on packages for preferential access to each other's markets for goods, services and investment, financial services, and government procurement, ag groups remain concerned about Japan's requested tariff exemptions on some agricultural products.

Earlier this week, pork groups from the U.S., Canada, Chile and Mexico called for repeal of Japan's tariffs on "nearly all products," along with its Gate Price, citing a concern that the TPP market access objectives won't be achieved if negotiators accept an offer from Japan that allows the country special treatment for its agriculture sector.

The groups say such special treatment could encourage other negotiating countries to demand the same. This would allow others to "backtrack on current offers, lower the ambition on rules language and possibly unravel the entire agreement," the groups said.

Related: Senators Criticize Japan's Tariff Requests in TPP Negotiations

Despite concern from the ag sector, the USTR said it plans to advance work on the TPP, working with negotiating counterparts in the coming weeks.

Next week, U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman will meet with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Ninh in Washington, D.C. Other meetings with TPP ministers are expected to follow, though it's uncertain if a deal can be reached before the end of the year.

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