TPP signed on Feb 4: Statements by USTR, U.S. Congressional Leaders

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) commented: “A good TPP agreement will benefit the U.S. economy and create jobs at home. Members of Congress continue to raise significant questions about this agreement to make sure it is best for America. The Administration has a responsibility to address these concerns if it expects Congress to ultimately support and move forward with TPP.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said: “I’m quite certain the President wants to get a strong TPP agreement passed as soon as possible. I share that goal. But, Congress has a history of taking the time necessary to consider and pass trade agreements, and the process set out under TPA demands that we do so. Despite a number of claims to the contrary, Congress does not rubber stamp trade agreements and we will not do so in this case.”

On February 4 (New Zealand time), U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the trade ministers for 11 other Asia-Pacific nations signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Auckland. At the ceremony, the ministers issued a joint declaration that reads in part:

“The signing of the agreement signals an important milestone and the beginning of the next phase for TPP. Our focus now turns to the completion of our respective domestic processes.

“We recognise the interest shown by a number of other economies throughout the region. This interest affirms our shared objective, through TPP, of creating a platform that promotes high-standards for broader economic integration in the future.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant issued a statement that reads in part:

“History shows that if we don’t move ahead on trade, we’ll be left behind. Other nations understand this: While the ink is barely dry, the TPP is already drawing interest from other Asia-Pacific economies that want to follow its ‘race-to-the-top’ recipe for trade and growth.

“At the same time, the Chamber continues to encourage the administration to work with Congress to address legitimate concerns expressed by industry and legislators. Doing so is critical to our efforts to secure strong bipartisan approval of the agreement.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) commented: “A good TPP agreement will benefit the U.S. economy and create jobs at home. Members of Congress continue to raise significant questions about this agreement to make sure it is best for America. The Administration has a responsibility to address these concerns if it expects Congress to ultimately support and move forward with TPP.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said: “I’m quite certain the President wants to get a strong TPP agreement passed as soon as possible. I share that goal. But, Congress has a history of taking the time necessary to consider and pass trade agreements, and the process set out under TPA demands that we do so. Despite a number of claims to the contrary, Congress does not rubber stamp trade agreements and we will not do so in this case.” Click the following link to view Senator Hatch’s remarks on the U.S. Senate floor.

Read more …

TPP officially signed, promising benefits for Asia Pacific citizens, Vietnam News, Feb 5, 2016

Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal signed, but years of negotiations still to come, Reuters, Feb 4, 2016

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the world’s biggest multinational trade deals, was signed on Feb 4, but the massive trade pact will still require years of tough negotiations before it becomes a reality. Opposition from many U.S. Democrats and some Republicans could mean a vote on the TPP is unlikely before President Barack Obama, a supporter of the TPP, leaves office early in 2017.”

Winston Peters: With the Trans-Pacific Partnership, New Zealand is signing a blank cheque, Feb 4, 2016 (former NZ Deputy PM, Treasurer, and Minister of Foreign Affairs)

“This brings us back to the fiction being peddled by Prime Minister John Key and recycled by some in the New Zealand media who ought to know better. Without the United States there is no Trans-Pacific Partnership, so why on earth is the Government getting away with its PR bluster over this ‘signing?'”

While National is prepared to sign a blank cheque, American lawmakers may eventually pass something quite different. At the beginning of February Congressman Dave Reichert, a Republican member of their Ways and Means Committee, said the Republican majority have concerns over “market access outcomes” for dairy and rice.

If that is not enough, Congressman Reichert added protections for biologic drugs, the carve out of anti-tobacco measures from investor-state dispute settlement provisions and the exclusion of financial services from a ban on data localisation.

Sadly, New Zealand will not have one scintilla of influence on the final shape of the TPPA. Yet National wants to sign nonetheless, but it is worth asking, to sign up to what exactly. The TPP further opens up a diplomatic-economic Pandora’s Box. Whilst on foreign policy Key calls Washington, when it comes to trade and investment, he picks up the phone to Beijing.

This diplomatic-trade tightrope creates one or two problems and they are the free trade agreements China has with two TPP countries – namely New Zealand and Australia. Key has yet to disclose the full extent of the economic beachheads China has in New Zealand and Australia.

From ports, to farms, and that shameful takeover of New Zealand’s largest meat exporter, Silver Fern Farms, China is a de facto part of the TPP and that may not go down well on Capitol Hill.

 

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