International negotiators brought to an end more than five years of talks when they convened in Atlanta and on October 5 approved an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Countries involved in the crafting of the trade pact include the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
While it is a relief to know that the countries involved seem to have reached an agreement on a fair trade deal that heavily involves agriculture trade, there is also anxiousness as we in the U.S. wait to review the full text of the agreement, and more importantly, wait for congressional and presidential approval of the agreement.
What may be good for one agricultural sector may not always be good for another, but the reactions from different trade groups at this point are somewhat similar. While the exact responses differ, the National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, and U.S. Meat Export Federation all seem to follow a central theme in their reactions: They are appreciative of the U.S. Trade Representative for the work done during the negotiations, and they look forward to reading the provisions of the agreement.
Congressional wrangling ahead?
While an agreement has been reached by the negotiators from the involved countries, an agreement from the U.S. House and Senate has yet to be reached. The Associated Press reported that a vote on TPP in Washington will likely not happen until well into 2016, citing the political sensitivity of the deal. A final vote on the matter could be used for political posturing and could take place as close to the 2016 elections as possible.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, in a statement revealed that he is keeping an open mind about the TPP deal.
“I look forward to taking a hard look at the details to determine if the trade deal will be beneficial to American agriculture and the Kansas economy,” said Roberts.
“It is my hope that a final agreement meets the needs of the broad agriculture industry. While increased market access for industries like beef and wheat will be essential, I want to ensure that this deal is the best deal possible for all of our farmers and ranchers.”
And while U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hails the agreement, Rep. K. Michael Conaway, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee has already started to express his skepticism. In a statement made on the same morning the agreement was reached, Conaway expressed confidence that the U.S. pork and beef sectors would benefit, but questioned whether market access for U.S. rice, sugar and dairy products would be sufficiently attained.
“It will take a coalition of many to move TPP over the coming months. At this time, I am skeptical these concerns were sufficiently addressed but will remain open-minded, and I look forward to studying the agreement,” Conaway said.