The text of the recently completed Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement has not yet been released, but that has not stopped members of Congress from taking positions on the trade deal. President Obama is facing stiff opposition from within his own party to the trade deal that involves over 40% of the world’s economy. Mr. Obama said strong support for TPP from farmers will be needed, “One of the great things about the American Agriculture community is that it is strong in both Republican and Democratic areas. I think if agriculture is strong and pushing we can get this past Congress.”
According to the USDA, if TPP is adopted, US farm exports will increase by as much as $12 billion. “This is going to be a boom for American farmers and ranchers not just for the next few years but for decades to come,” said Obama. The USDA has released an estimate of the benefits the TPP agreement will have on individual commodities and individual states. For example, for beef, Japan’s beef tariff, currently as high as 50 percent, will be reduced to nine percent. Japan will eliminate duties on 75 percent of tariff lines, including processed beef products. Vietnam will eliminate tariffs, and Malaysia will lock tariffs in at zero percent. For pork, Japan will eliminate duties on nearly 80 percent of tariff lines, including processed pork. Remaining tariffs will be cut and the “Gate Price” system significantly altered. Nearly all Malaysian tariffs will be locked in at zero percent, and Vietnam will eliminate tariffs.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack points out most farm groups are already on board, “Most farm organizations have already come out in support of TPP, representing a wide cross-section of the industry.” He pledged that USDA will continue to educate stakeholders and the public about the benefits of TPP, “So they can see what I see, that this is an historic opportunity for ag.” But the NFU has already announced it is opposed to the deal, and the dairy industry is taking a wait and see attitude.
Congress will not be able to change any of the provisions of the deal, but will have to agree or disagree with a simple up or down vote. That is not likely to come until next year.