Trade ministers on October 5 reached agreement on terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the regional trade agreement among 12 countries of the Pacific Rim.
Details within specific chapters of the agreement will be available in the coming weeks. For the fresh produce industry, the agreement is expected to bring tariffs to near zero for almost all fresh fruits and vegetables traded between the 12 countries. The deal will also establish binding rules for how countries deal with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues. In the end, TPP has the potential to be an historic opportunity for PMA members in the region, and by extension the entire globe.
As you might recall, this deal has been in the works for more than five years. It’s arguably the most ambitious trade deal ever created, and the most important to the Northern Hemisphere since NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement. The negotiating countries include: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Together, these nations represent a customer base of nearly 800 million consumers and 40 percent of global trade.
Now that an agreement has been reached, each of the 12 countries will need to ratify through its own internal process.
For the United States, here’s how the timeline will work:
- President Obama has to notify lawmakers 90 days before he plans to sign the deal.
- 30 days after the president’s notification, the administration must release the text of the agreement to the public.
- After the president signs the agreement, it must be reviewed by the U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent commission that analyzes the economic impact of the deal. The commission has up to 105 days to complete its assessment.
- After that, Congress will debate and vote on the deal, which will be limited to an up-or-down vote without amendments per conditions of the fast-track bill.
Congress is expected to vote on the agreement in early 2016. As per the passage of Trade Promotion Authority in June, Congress can only cast an up or down vote. They cannot change the provisions of the agreement.
What PMA members can expect
Now that a deal has been struck, PMA staff and the Cornerstone Government Affairs team in D.C. will examine the published agreement to identify for members areas of the deal that have the most impact on the fresh produce industry.
In particular, we’ll interpret and explain key issues relative to fresh fruits and vegetables. We’ll also be engaged longer term to ensure the agreement is being implemented – and enforced – by all participating countries in the manner intended.
In addition, we’ll be holding a special workshop at Fresh Summit in Atlanta called “Beyond the Acronyms: Trade Agreements, Global Opportunities & You.” The session will take a look at TPP and other key trade agreements under negotiation, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, in addition to regional agreements already being implemented. Plus, a panel of produce industry trade experts from around the world will be on hand to discuss how these agreements can translate into trade opportunities for your businesses. So mark your calendar, the workshop is scheduled Oct. 23 from 12:45-2:15 p.m. EST.
In the meantime, look to this Issues Leadership blog for more information on the progress of TPP passage in coming months. Free and fair trade is central to world trade of fresh fruits and vegetables, which is why the TPP stands to be a sea change in trade relations for PMA members in the Pacific Rim and the entire globe.
For more information about the TPP, visit the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s website.