The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) took one more step to becoming a reality, as representatives from all 12 participating countries signed the agreement on February 4 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Negotiators from all countries involved -- United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – reached an agreement on TPP on October 5, but the official signing of the trade pact had not yet been completed.

The agreement, which has the support of a number of U.S. agriculture organizations like the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), National Chicken Council (NCC), USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), promises to cut trade barriers as well as set labor and environmental standards.

With the agreement signed, it is now up to the governments of all involved countries to approve TPP.

Groups push Congress to approve TPP

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AFIA, in a press release, said Congress should approve the trade agreement because in 2014, the U.S. exported more than $10 billion in feed, feed ingredients and pet food, including soybean meal, corn co-products and other feed additives. Sixty percent of those exports go to TPP countries.

"U.S. exports to the Asia-Pacific region have grown, but the share of U.S. trade in that area has declined relative to other countries because countries in that region have biolateral or regional free trade agreements with U.S. competitors," said Gina Tumbarello, AFIA director of international policy and trade. "For example, a recent USDA report found the Japan-Australia trade deal could result in a $100 million loss in exports to Japan. Ratifying TPP would significantly reduce this effect.

Several other proponents of TPP in the U.S. had already been urging Congress to approve the trade deal.

“America’s pork producers strongly and unequivocally support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and we will urge Congress to pass it quickly,” NPPC President-elect John Weber said in November.

A non-partisan group of former U.S. agriculture secretaries also sent a letter to Congress, urging the passage of TPP. Former secretaries signing the letter included Republicans Ed Schafer, Mike Johanns, Ann Veneman, Clayton Yeutter and John Block, and Democrats Mike Espy and Dan Glickman.