Last Thursday – a momentous day for trade, as the introduction of bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation in Congress sparked new life into ongoing trade negotiations – USCIB partnered with Bloomberg to convene a timely conference, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Setting New Rules for Trade in the 21st Century,” at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by Visa, and produced in partnership with Bloomberg Government, Bloomberg BNA and the National Foreign Trade Council, the conference brought together key players in the global trade debate, including U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, two key members of Congress and an array of trade experts from the U.S. and other TPP negotiating parties, the business community and other areas.
Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Sandy Levin (D-MI) from the House Ways and Means Committee offered a spirited debate of some of the most contentious aspects of the TPP negotiations, including provisions to open up the Japanese market for U.S. auto and agricultural exports, investor-state dispute settlement, and the inclusion of labor and human rights benchmarks for U.S. trade partners.
Ambassador Froman, breaking away from key Senate Finance Committee hearings to brief conference participants on the latest developments. He said negotiators were in the “final innings” of the talks, but noted that “some games go into extra innings,” and that most of the most contentious issues are yet to be fully resolved. He said progress on Trade Promotion Authority would send a positive signal to America’s trading partners, and would be “a critical tool to move the trade agreement forward.”
USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan took part in a panel discussion of business priorities for the talks, which also featured former Florida Congressman Jim Bacchus, who now heads the global practice group at Greenberg Traurig and chairs the International Chamber of Commerce’s Trade and Investment Commission.
Mulligan observed that, with the growing use of global value chains by business to reach global markets, it is critical that TPP address impediments such as localization requirements, restrictions on cross-border trade and customs barriers that impede the smooth operational of global value chains.
Other conference panels looked at critical issues remaining in the talks, views from other TPP parties, and the broader international economic implications of a TPP agreement. Additional speakers included Under Secretary of State Cathy Novelli, New Zealand Ambassador to the United States Mike Moore (former director general of the World Trade Organization), and Phil Karsting, administrator of the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service. A number of USCIB members took part in key panel discussions. (Click here for the full agenda and list of speakers.)
USCIB is on the steering committee of the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP, which is pressing for an ambitious and market-opening agreement that can set a high bar for future trade agreements in the region and around the world.