White House releases 2014 trade agenda

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With multiple trade negotiations pending and three months gone in the year, President Obama released the administration’s ambitious 2014 trade agenda this week.

Exports In order to have the financial resources necessary to achieve the lofty agenda, the President’s budget would provide the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative about $56.2 million, up from $52.6 million this year. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the budget proposal makes the critical investments necessary to “create new opportunities for American businesses, farmers and entrepreneurs through trade.”

Froman said the trade agenda is part of a broader strategy for creating jobs and generating growth. According to the trade agenda, data from 2013 showed that every $1 billion in U.S. goods exports supported approximately 5,400 American jobs and every $1billion of U.S. services exports supported approximately 5,900 American jobs.

The first agenda item is concluding negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which could boost annual U.S. exports by $124 billion. The countries involved in the TPP agreement include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The TPP partners comprise nearly 40 percent of the global GDP and a third of global trade, according to the president’s trade agenda.

Another priority for the agenda is to “make significant progress” on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement with the European Union. According to the agenda, T-TIP gives the United States and the EU an opportunity to modernize trade rules related to regulatory and standards systems.

Specifically relating to agriculture, the president’s agenda recognizes that agriculture has been a positive during his tenure at the White House. In 2013, agricultural exports topped $148 billion. According to the agenda document, in 2014, the administration will focus on opening and maintaining markets and advocating for science-based sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, including efforts with key trading partners like Russia, China and Japan.

The Five Nations Beef Alliance, comprised of the Cattle Council of Australia, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Confederacion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, recently issued a statement urging TPP negotiators to focus on a plurilateral agreement that has a “high quality, comprehensive outcome for agricultural liberalization.” The alliance also urged incorporating international science-based standards into the text and that Rules of Origin established by TPP must facilitate trade in all red meat products from live animal through prepared meat products.

In order to achieve the agenda goals, the President calls on Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority, which the agenda calls a critical tool “for Congress to update and assert its role in trade policy, to guide current and future negotiations, and to ensure the completion of market-opening, job-supporting agreements.” 

TPA has been broadly supported among agricultural organizations. American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said TPA is needed now.

“For negotiations to keep moving forward on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) discussions, we need the TPA authority in place. We urge Congress to pass the bill without delay and show that the United States is committed to completing these trade negotiations.”

For additional perspective about current happenings of trade policy in Washington, D.C., check out the latest commentary from Steve Dittmer

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