September 9, 2013
This afternoon, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman reached out to a broad cross-section of stakeholders to join him on a call to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. As U.S. negotiators press forward to complete a high-standard trade agreement that levels the playing field for U.S. workers and businesses in Asia-Pacific trade, Ambassador Froman set the stage for a deeper level of engagement with these and other stakeholders in the weeks and months ahead.
“We very much view stakeholder input, whether through our cleared advisers or other stakeholders, as absolutely critical,” said Ambassador Froman. “We’re at a stage in TPP where we’re going to have to make difficult decisions. I imagine that not everyone will be 100 percent pleased with every decision, but we can guarantee that we will seek your input, we will consult with you. We won’t make these decisions in isolation. And we will be proactive about getting your participation in this process.”
More than 170 participants, including stakeholders from key sectors such as business, labor, environment, public health, academia, advocacy groups, and some members of USTR’s Trade Advisory Committee system participated in the call. Many asked and received information about the status of U.S. proposals and prospects for advancing various issues in the talks - from agricultural market access to intellectual property - in the near future.
Ambassador Froman said that TPP negotiators have been working “around the clock” to keep moving forward toward an agreement. He noted that negotiations over number of sensitive issues will likely take to the end of the talks; he also reviewed the facts on the new U.S. proposal on tobacco in the TPP, which will for the first time in a trade agreement acknowledge the impact of tobacco on public health and include measures to address the issue. Ambassador Froman said that October meetings on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bali, Indonesia would be “an important milestone” in the process, offering a chance for Leaders of the TPP countries to come together and offer guidance to trade ministers and negotiators on dealing with remaining issues with the goal of finishing the negotiations this year.
USTR Froman underscored the President’s focus on making trade a driver of America’s economic recovery and a pillar of our future economic stability. He called the President’s trade agenda bold in scope, emphasis, and in ambition, with TPP as the cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s economic policy in the Asia-Pacific region. He committed to keep Americans informed and involved in the negotiating process as efforts continue this year.