WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2016 - The Trans-Pacific Partnership, after months of being bashed by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, isn’t dead but it is in “purgatory,” according to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Withdrawing from TPP was one of the core pledges President-elect Trump made on the campaign trail, making many doubt that Congress will ratify the 12-nation trade pact during the lame duck session.

Froman, speaking at the end of an event held Monday night by Politico and FedEx, said other countries will move forward with trade deals even if the U.S. does not.

“I think other countries are certainly not going to stay still,” Froman said. “They’re going to move forward … That means we’re going to be left on the sidelines, seeing not only the opportunities that TPP represented lost, but see our existing market share in these markets eroded by other countries getting access. And that, I don’t think is in our interest.”

David Salmonsen, a senior director for congressional relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, also would not agree that TPP was dead. He told Agri-Pulse in an interview that he considers the trade deal “on pause” and stressed that it could be a long pause. U.S. trade deals with South Korea and Panama were both delayed, or “on pause,” for several years, but eventually ratified, he said.

Canadian rancher group wants Japan trade deal with or without TPP.  The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association doesn’t want President-elect Trump’s opposition to TPP to get in the way of the benefits they see from expanding trade with Japan. 

The U.S., Canada, Japan and nine other countries all signed off on the TPP, but both the U.S. Congress and Japan’s National Diet have to ratify the trade pact for it to be implemented. Suspicions are high that won’t happen now that Trump won the presidential election.

If there won’t be a TPP, the Canadian rancher group said Monday, then Canada needs to negotiate a separate pact with Japan.

“The CCA strongly supports the TPP and encourages Canada and Japan to formally approve the agreement,” the group said. “However, recognizing that U.S. approval is necessary for the TPP to proceed, and that the path to approval in the U.S. is at present uncertain, the CCA is recommending that Canada and Japan aggressively reengage in a bilateral ‘Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement’ (CEPA) negotiation, embracing the important details that were negotiated for market access in the TPP.”

President-elect Trump’s opposition to TPP is included in his “Contract with the American Voter,” but the Canadian Cattlemen are still optimistic.

“We believe that Trump’s advisors will recognize the fact that history has shown that trade is the best way to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” they said.
In with the new and out with the old at USDA. As the Trump administration ramps up its transition into power, Obama administration officials are preparing for life in the public sector. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack chaired his first meeting of agency heads Monday since the election and it was a somber event. Vilsack told Agri-Pulse that he congratulated the gathered political appointees on the great job they had done, but also reassured them they’ll get help in finding jobs after the Obama Administration ends.
There was a round of applause at the end of the hour-long meeting and acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse said much of the meeting was a recap on the USDA’s accomplishments over the past eight years.
WRDA priority for lame duck, other issues could wait. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says that passing a new Water Resources Development Act will be a priority for the lame duck session of Congress that started this week. 
He’s also hopeful, he says, that the House and Senate can finish work on a defense authorization bill that has been held up over GOP demands for a provision that would prevent the sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species. The sage grouse provision would appear to be largely moot now that Republicans will control the White House. 
McCarthy told reporters that no decisions have been made about whether to finish the fiscal 2017 spending bills during the lame duck or to wait until the new Congress. Conservatives are pushing GOP leaders to put off the negotiations until Trump is in office. 
McCarthy downplays differences on immigration. McCarthy, who represents a district in California’s Central Valley where farmers are heavily dependent on immigrant labor, is downplaying the impact that Trump would have on immigration policy. 
McCarthy noted that Trump says he’ll focus deportations only on criminal aliens. The House leader also suggested that Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the border could be addressed through a combination of fencing in some areas and the use of drones in others. 
Trump needs space on trade policy, McCarthy says. McCarthy also suggested to reporters that it’s too soon to tell what impact Donald Trump will have on trade policy. McCarthy was asked specifically about whether Congress could intervene with Trump should he follow with threats to impose tariffs on imports from Mexico and China.
 “This is a time where he can reach out to our allies and friends across the world (and) build a relationship,” McCarthy said. “The first thing we want to do is expand the balance of trade that America has. … Give him the opportunity for him to do that before you predetermine what he’s going to do.” 
He said it: “I am going to be finding a hammock on a beach for some undetermined amount of time. Those are the only plans I’ve made so far.” That was USTR Michael Froman, talking about what he’ll be doing after Jan. 20.
Phil Brasher contributed to this report.


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