WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2015 -- USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will be released “very, very soon” and that the document will prove to be “very beneficial” to agriculture.
Vilsack said a delay in releasing the text of the agreement, reached Oct. 5, was understandable. He told reporters on a conference call to promote the TPP that lawyers from the U.S. and the 11 other Pacific Rim nations involved have been going over the text with a “fine-tooth comb” and that it also had to be reviewed by the new Labor government in Canada.Once released, Vilsack said Congress will have "plenty of time" to study the agreement before voting. He said he expects TPP to be approved.
“We’re very excited about TPP here at USDA,” Vilsack said, as he recited a litany of statistics to demonstrate the “extraordinary opportunity” the agreement presents for U.S. farmers and ranchers.
The 12 TPP countries, including the U.S., Canada, Japan and Mexico, account for 40 percent of the world’s GDP, he noted. Outside of the U.S., the nations have a middle class that will grow from about 525 million to 3.5 billion over the next 15 years. And many members of that growing middle class will be looking to buy American made products. If TPP is approved, Vilsack said, tariffs on some 18,000 American-made products will be reduced or eliminated across the 11 trading partners, making it easier for U.S. producers to sell their products overseas.
Vilsack was joined on the call by one of those producers, Youssef Elayyadi, of Chicago-based Vienna Beef, a company that exports hot dogs, soup and pickles, among other things. Vilsack noted that TPP members Malaysia, Japan and Vietnam would cut tariffs on all those products under TPP.
“This is very important,” Elayyadi said, “for a company like ours to be able to grow and invest.”
Beyond Chicago, a new report from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative shows that goods exported just by the state of Illinois support more than 345,000 U.S. jobs, and 56 percent of its exports are shipped to TPP partners.
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