Washington Week Ahead: Focus on International Trade Talks

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 14, 2014 - Look for trade issues to make headlines this week as U.S. efforts continue to forge two major commercial treaties, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 other Asia-Pacific nations, and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the European Union. Agricultural issues are among the major obstacles in both negotiations.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and his top deputy, Wendy Cutter, are meeting with Japanese officials in Washington this week, seeking to make progress in the TPP talks, now almost a decade old. Multilateral negotiations, which did not involve top-level trade ministers, wrapped up in Ottawa on July 12 with no reports of breakthroughs.

Japan has been resisting U.S. demands to make major cuts in its agricultural tariffs. Both countries are also seeking greater access to each other's automobile markets. President Obama has said he'd like to have a draft deal finished when he next visits Asia in November. The treaty would involve countries representing 40 percent of the global economy and almost 800 million people.

In Europe, a sixth round of T-TIP negotiations will be taking place this week in Brussels. A major obstacle in the talks has been EU resistance to demands that it ease its rules against genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). A joint press conference with negotiators from both sides is set for Friday when the talks conclude.

Meanwhile, a House Ways and Means subcommittee on Wednesday will be reviewing trade issues, specifically, what the World Trade Organization can do to more effectively address tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, including sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to agricultural commerce that are not based on sound science.

Lets Talk Food

Here's a list of agriculture-related events that are scheduled to take place this week in and around the nation's capital and elsewhere:

 

Monday, July 14

Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Wendy Cutler begins two days of meetings with Ambassador Hiroshi Oe of Japan regarding Trans-Pacific Partnership market access issues focusing on agriculture, in Washington. Through July 15.

Corn farmers from across the country are preparing to gather in Washington this week, starting on Monday. They will participate in a series of action team and committee meetings, Capitol Hill visits with lawmakers and the semi-annual Corn Congress, where grower-leaders from 28 states will elect five new members of the National Corn Growers Association Corn Board.

 

The School Nutrition Association is holding its annual meeting in Boston, through July 17.

4 p.m. USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.

5 p.m. The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act.  H-313, Capitol.

 

Tuesday, July 15

USTR Michael Froman meets with Koya Nishikawa, head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan's Trans-Pacific Partnership trade committee, in Washington. Later, Froman travels to Sydney for the G20 Ministers meeting.

9 a.m. House Appropriations Committee will markup the Interior and FY 2015 Environment Appropriations Bill. 2359 Rayburn.

10 a.m. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment holds a hearing on “EPA's Expanded Interpretation of its Permit Veto Authority Under the Clean Water Act.” 2167 Rayburn.

10:30 a.m. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing to examine “Wildfire Preparedness and the Forest Service 2015 Fiscal Year Budget.”

3 p.m. USDA releases Turkey Hatchery report.

 

Wednesday, July 16

Acting Deputy USTR Wendy Cutler and Ambassador Takeo Mori of Japan will lead U.S.-Japan parallel negotiations to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, focusing on Motor Vehicle Trade, in Washington.

10 a.m. The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade holds a hearing on the U.S. trade agenda. Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said that among other things, the panel plans to explore how the WTO could more effectively address tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, including sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to agricultural commerce that are not based on sound science. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke is listed as a witness. 2014 Longworth.

10 a.m. House Budget Committee holds a hearing on the Long-Term Budget Outlook. 210 Cannon.

10 a.m. House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security holds a hearing entitled, “Port of Entry Infrastructure: How Does the Federal Government Prioritize Investments?” 311 Cannon.

10 a.m. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee holds a hearing entitled, “Challenges at the Border: Examining and Addressing the Root Causes Behind the Rise in Apprehensions at the Southern Border. 342 Dirksen.

2 p.m. House Science, Space and Technology subcommittees on Oversight and Environment hold a joint hearing on the status of Reforms to EPA's Integrated Risk Information System. 2318 Rayburn.

2 p.m. The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife holds a legislative hearing to consider proposed legislation, including: S. 571, the Great Lakes Water Protection Act; S. 1153, the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act; S. 1175, Infrastructure Facilitation and Habitat Conservation Act of 2013; and S. 2225, the Smart Water Resource Management Conservation and Efficiency Act of 2014. 406 Dirksen.

The EPA will hold a webinar titled “Ditch The Myth: Let's Get Serious About Protecting Clean Water” to address concerns and misconceptions about the proposal by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, running from 3-4 pm. Eastern time. To register, click http://mp118885.cdn.mediaplatform.com/118885/ml/mp/4000/5345/5417/37758/Lobby/default.htm

 

3 p.m. USDA releases Broiler Hatchery report.

 

Thursday, July 17

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee holds its fourth meeting, through July 18. The panel, under the administrative leadership of the Department of Health and Human Services, is charged with coming up with recommendations for the 2015 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are updated every five years.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack travels to Portland, Oregon, where he will host a Regional Conservation Partnership Program roundtable (closed press) followed by a media availability.

2 p.m. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a hearing entitled, “The Federal Research Portfolio: Capitalizing on Investments in R&D.” 253 Russell.

3 p.m. USDA releases annual report on Non-citrus Fruits and Nuts.

 

Friday, July 18

Dan Mullaney, chief negotiator for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) will co-host with his EU counterpart a press conference at the conclusion of the sixth round of T-TIP negotiations, from Brussels.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack travels to Fresno, California, to announce funds to help rural communities struggling amid drought.

3 p.m. USDA releases reports on Milk Production and Peanut Prices.

#30

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