Industry applauds fast-track trade bill

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – A bill that would fast-track free trade agreements through Congress was well received by stakeholders in the meat and poultry industry.

The “Bipartisan Trade Priorities and Accountability Act” (TPA) would give Congress the power to vote on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-Tip) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Any final agreements reached would be subject to a 60-day public comment period before President Obama signs the agreements and up to four months before a congressional vote. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin introduced the bill on April 16.

“Prompt passage of this legislation would strengthen the position of US international trade negotiators as they continue to move forward with new agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” said Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council.

In a statement, US Trade Representative Michael Froman said, “the Bipartisan Trade Priorities and Accountability Act represents the most significant upgrade to our approach to trade in over four decades…

“TPA will move us one step closer to delivering trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which will open growing markets to ‘Made in America’ exports, protect our workers, and ensure that America, not our competitors, sets the rules of the road on trade.”

One in five US jobs is supported by trade, noted Cargill. The fast-track legislation has important implications for jobs in the US and food security throughout the world.

“Trade agreements are crucial to making the world more food secure,” said David MacLennan, president and CEO. “If we empower the president to sign trade agreements, we can ensure trade is both free and fair by creating international standards that protect workers and the environment. This is an historic opportunity.”

Philip Ellis, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said past free trade agreements have shown “tremendous success” for US beef exports. He noted that US beef exports logged more than $7 billion in total sales, the highest figure the industry has seen for beef exports.

“The US market is one of the most open markets in the world,” Ellis said. “The only way for us to level the playing field is to negotiate increased market access and tariff elimination through free trade agreements. As a cow/calf producer, the increased trade through these agreements adds value to my cattle and my bottom line. This is not only important for our families, but profitability now, sets the tone for future generations of cattlemen and women.”
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