By Stephanie Cohen
Feb. 21 — A Feb. 20 letter from more than 40 associations called on U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to negotiate a “comprehensive” Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement with Pacific countries and expressed concern that Canada and Japan are not being more flexible on market access issues for certain U.S. exports.
“According to published reports, both countries seem intent on preserving the status quo for their most protected sectors. Specifically, the scope and degree of market-access coverage reportedly offered by these two nations would be a significant step backward compared to prior U.S. trade agreements,” according to the letter to Froman.
The groups—representing American agricultural, manufacturing and retail sector businesses—called for a TPP agreement that will eliminate tariffs, as well as non-tariff barriers to trade in goods and services and investment.
The groups argued that the “TPP must produce comprehensive market-access benefits with respect to tariffs, non-tariff barriers, services, and investment. In addition, it must address a range of existing and emerging issues that are critically important to the future of U.S. competitiveness, such as cross-border data flows, competition from state-owned enterprises, and the protection of intellectual property rights and investment.”
They argue that the failure to reach a such a comprehensive pact “would establish adverse precedent, particularly if other important trading nations accede to the TPP in the future.”
The letter comes as trade ministers from 13 countries negotiating the TPP agreement are scheduled to meet Feb. 22-25 and on the heels of a Feb. 20 TPP meeting of U.S. and Japanese officials that ended without an agreement.
“Not only would the tariff barriers that Japan seeks to maintain be unprecedented, but they are in the very sectors that have the greatest potential for future trade growth between the United States and Japan,” the letter said.
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The letter is available at http://op.bna.com/itr.nsf/r?Open=esin-9gjtvh.
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