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RIO GRANDE GUARDIAN: Cuellar welcomes Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement

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LAREDO, Texas, October 6, 2015 | comments

BY: Luis Montoya

LAREDO, Texas – Congressman Henry Cuellar has welcomed the finalization of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Twelve countries are covered by the agreement, which was reached following discussions in Atlanta, Georgia. The 12 are the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These nations encompass nearly 40 percent of the global economy.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership will lead to more jobs and an increase in opportunity for the agricultural products and manufactured goods made in this country and in my district,” said Cuellar, D-Laredo.

“Over the summer, I was a strong supporter of Trade Promotion Authority, which will give the president the authority to present the agreement to Congress for a simple up-or-down vote. As the representative for the largest inland port in the country, I have seen the positive effects that free trade can have on my district. I am happy to hear that a final agreement has now been reached, and I look forward to reviewing it closely in the coming days.”

The agreement is the lead story in today’s New York Times. The headline is “Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Reached, but Faces Scrutiny in Congress.”

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association has also welcomed the agreement.

“After years of discussion, TSCRA is pleased the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations between the U.S. and Pacific Rim nations have finally concluded,” said TSCRA President Pete Bonds. “It is my hope that the TPP will eliminate trade barriers and allow us to finally expand beef exports across the Pacific Rim.”

Bonds said the agreement provides “an opportunity to not only increase demand and growth for beef exports, but also boost the entire U.S. economy by supporting jobs and creating trade opportunities across many other markets in our country.” He said the TSCRA looks forward to working with Congress “to review the details of this agreement and expand trade market access in the U.S.”

AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka wants to see exactly what is in the agreement but is skeptical.

“We are disappointed that our negotiators rushed to conclude the TPP in Atlanta, given all the concerns that have been raised by American stakeholders and members of Congress. The Administration had a hard time reaching this deal for good reasons: it appears that many problematic concessions were made in order to finalize the deal,” Trumka said.

“We ask the Administration to release the text immediately, and urge legislators to exercise great caution in evaluating the TPP. As we’ve said, rushing through a bad deal will not bring economic stability to working families, nor will it bring confidence that our priorities count as much as those of global corporations. We will evaluate the details carefully and work to defeat this corporate trade deal if it does not measure up.”

Maria Contreras-Sweet, who heads the U.S. Small Business Administration, welcomed the agreement.

“Today, the United States completed negotiations with the 11 other members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This 21st century agreement will strengthen America’s position in the global economy and enhance the ability of America’s small businesses to reach customers in the Asia-Pacific region with their Made-in-America goods,” Contreras-Sweet said.

“TPP is the first trade deal to ensure small businesses stand to gain from global trade by dedicating a chapter specifically to breaking down the barriers to exporting faced by small businesses. The U.S Small Business Administration is committed to opening doors to global markets for our small and growing businesses.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was slated to hold national media call on Tuesday to discuss how the TPP provides “a more level playing field” in trade for American farmers. U.S. exports of agricultural products to TPP countries totaled $63 billion in 2014, Vilsack said. This represents 42 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports.

“Thanks to this agreement and its removal of unfair trade barriers, American agricultural exports to the region will expand even further,” Vilsack’s office said, in a media advisory. “The agreement would eliminate or significantly reduce tariffs on agriculture products and deter non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that have put American agriculture at a disadvantage in TPP countries in the past.”

Vilsack was also slated Tuesday to host a meeting attended by President Obama at USDA with agriculture and business leaders to discuss the benefits of the TPP.

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