Froman talks up TPP in conference call; Colombia beef deal announced

By Stephen Davies

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2016 - U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman took to the telephone on Tuesday afternoon to tout the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as summarized in a recent report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE). Later, Froman announced a deal that will reduce red tape on beef exports to Colombia.

Froman noted that the model used in the PIIE report assumed the TPP would have no effect on either overall employment rates or the trade balance. But what the agreement would do is help move workers into higher paying jobs, he said.

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Froman cited the report's estimate that by 2030, “almost 800,000 jobs will be added to U.S. exporting activities.”


According to the report, the TPP will “raise real incomes in the United States by $131 billion in 2030 and a similar amount in subsequent years. To be sure, the TPP will also generate adjustment costs; some workers may face difficult transitions as less productive jobs are lost and more productive jobs are created.”


“U.S. exports will increase substantially in durable and nondurable manufacturing industries and in traded services,” the report says. “Export gains are smaller in primary (agricultural and mining) products because this sector is small in the first place and because its products are often exported in processed form as food, beverages, chemicals, and other raw-materials based products.”


Froman was joined on the call by Kevin Kester, policy division chair for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and Tampa, Florida Mayor Bob Buckhorn.


“NCBA strongly supports all your efforts,” Kester said, and echoed his own comments on the benefits of reduced tariffs on beef exports to Japan. Like Froman and Buckhorn, he urged approval of the agreement “as soon as possible,” but acknowledged “there's still a lot of work to get done in Congress” to gain support for TPP.


He said that in discussions with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, “Nobody is saying no to TPP. Everybody is doing their due diligence and their homework and going through the documents. That's going to take time and it's my impression that we will have some sort of action later in the year.”


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Froman stressed the need to move quickly, saying that a year without the agreement in place would cost each U.S. household the equivalent of $600. But he also noted that the groundwork for approval needs to be laid first.


Asked when the administration might send implementing legislation to the Hill, Froman said USTR is consulting with Congress on the precise timing. Meanwhile, USTR is producing its own reports on the agreement. He also pointed to the U.S. International Trade Commission hearings and investigation on the TPP's economic effects, which will result in a report in May.


The conference call came shortly before Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. had reached an agreement with Colombia “to reduce burdensome certification requirements for U.S. beef and beef products for human consumption entering Colombia, which is not a TPP country.


According to a USTR press release, “The agreement is expected to facilitate increased exports of U.S. beef and beef products, which have grown substantially since the May 2012 entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.”


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