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TPP Talks to Resume Next Week, US Outlines Objectives

The next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks will start up next week in Atlanta when the U.S. hosts trade ministers from the agreement’s partner nations in another effort to finalize the deal slated to set the rules for trade and investment for roughly 40 percent of the global economy.

During the last round of negotiations in July, no deal was reached—negotiators got tied up on points related to dairy trade, intellectual property protection for drugs and car manufacturing.

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman said Tuesday, though, that the agreement between the U.S. Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, is “close” to completion.

The USTR released a summary of its TPP objectives this week in an effort to remain transparent about aspects of the agreement following previous accusations that the TPP was being kept too “secret” from the American public.

“This report is a detailed look at what we are fighting for at the TPP negotiating table to help unlock opportunity for U.S. workers, farmers, and businesses,” Ambassador Froman said. “We have taken Congress’s marching orders through bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority and our ongoing consultations seriously and are following through on delivering the high standard deal Congress and the American people expect.”

In short, the U.S. wants to:

  • Help American producers sell more Made in America product abroad
  • Enhance competitiveness of Made in America textiles in the Asia-Pacific region
  • Increase opportunities for American service providers in the Asia-Pacific region
  • Protect basic labor rights in the region and level the playing field for American workers
  • Promote a free and open Internet, break down barriers and strengthen protections for consumers
  • Benefit American consumers through fair competition
  • Advance the interests of America’s small and medium-sized businesses
  • Support American jobs by promoting America’s innovation advantage
  • Cut red tape to increase exports of Made in America products to ensure American goods become part of global supply chains
  • Promote sustainable development and broad-based economic growth

Last year, the U.S. exported $727 billion worth of goods to TPP countries, manufacturing exports totaled $638 billion, and companies headquartered in TPP countries employed 1.5 million American workers,according to the USTR report. More than $1.9 billion in goods leave the U.S. bound for TPP nations every day.

American textile and apparel manufacturers sold more than $10 billion worth of products to TPP countries in 2013, up 5.4% from the previous year.

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“Many U.S. yarns, fabrics, and apparel currently face very high tariffs upon entering some TPP countries,” the report noted. “Our goal in the TPP negotiations is to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to textile and apparel exports to enhance the competitiveness of our producers in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Beyond eliminating tariffs on exports, the U.S. wants to secure a “yarn forward” rule of origin, which means textile and apparel products would have to be made using U.S. or other TPP country yarns to qualify for the agreement’s benefits.

If fabrics, yarns or fibers aren’t available in TPP countries, a “short supply” list—something else the U.S. is working on—would outline non-TPP places makers could source the goods from and still maintain the duty free privilege.

To protect domestic producers, the U.S. also wants to establish a textile-specific safeguard that would allow the U.S. and other TPP countries to re-impose tariffs on certain products if a surge in imports were to pose a threat or damage those domestic producers.

Many of the aforementioned objectives are not yet settled, but could be in next week’s negotiations.

“There is still work to be done as we pursue President Obama’s vision of harnessing trade as a tool for increasing economic growth, supporting jobs, and building opportunity for Americans through a partnership that will benefit all TPP countries,” the report noted.