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Inside U.S. Trade - April 11, 2014

Australia-Japan FTA Cuts Beef Tariff, But Aussie Ag Industry Not Satisfied

Australia and Japan this week announced that they have concluded negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement that further opens up the Japanese market to Australian exports of beef and, to a lesser extent, dairy products. But the deal stops short of fully liberalizing agriculture trade and completely excludes several sensitive farm goods.

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Japanese Official Says Obama, Abe Will Not 'Negotiate' On TPP During Meeting

A Japanese official said yesterday (April 15) that he does not expect President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to "negotiate" on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during Obama's trip to Tokyo next week, in an apparent signal that the two sides may not reach a breakthrough during the meeting.

U.S. Tech Industry Mulls Longer Tariff Phase-Outs To Spark ITA Progress

The U.S. technology industry has quietly begun discussing how it might scale back its demands to eliminate tariffs quickly under an expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), in the hope that this might help break the deadlock in the ITA talks caused by China's resistance to eliminating a wide range of tech tariffs in the near term.

U.S. Official Updates On TPP Textiles; Signals Link To Japan Market Access

A Commerce Department official last week provided new details about the U.S. textile and apparel offer to Vietnam in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, and acknowledged that TPP countries are still haggling over the terms of a short supply list containing textile inputs that could be sourced from outside the region to make apparel that would qualify for tariff benefits.

QFR By Ways and Means Member Presses USTR On Steel Overcapacity

In his question for the record (QFR) to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) pressed USTR on how it is working with the Commerce Department and the White House to address the excess foreign steel capacity and the resulting increase in steel imports to the United States, which he charged is unfairly traded.

EU Stance On Food Safety In TTIP Makes Resolving Irritants Tough Road

The United States will have a tough time tackling some key EU agricultural trade barriers – especially those affecting U.S. meat exports – if senior European Commission officials adhere to their position that a bilateral trade and investment pact currently being negotiated will not change the laws governing EU food safety.

German Finance Minister Says Ukraine Will Help 'Fight' TTIP Slowdown

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble acknowledged late last week fears among some supporters of the U.S.-EU trade negotiations that political momentum is slowing behind the initiative, but argued that the recent crisis in Ukraine will help prevent any such slowdown.

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  • Froman Says U.S. Will 'Re-Engage' With India On IPR After Spring Elections

    U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman signaled during an April 3 House Ways and Means Committee hearing that the United States wants to resolve issues relating to India's intellectual property (IP) policies through negotiation rather than litigation, but that it is waiting to do so until after India's parliamentary elections this spring.

  • NGOs Blast PITAC As Not Adding Sufficient Balance To Advisory Panels

    Three civil society groups and two members of Congress last week blasted the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative's new Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee (PITAC) as not going far enough to incorporate input of civil society representatives in the advisory committee system, and argued that requiring PITAC members to sign non-disclosure agreements would stymie their ability to serve the public interest.

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  • Levin Calls For Bicameral TPP Working Group To Provide Structured Input

    House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) this week said he hoped to work with other members of Congress and the Obama administration to create a bicameral, bipartisan working group to provide input into the negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on a range of what he called major issues, including meaningful rules for curbing currency manipulation.

  • De Gucht Attacks U.S. Limits On Access To TTIP Negotiating Proposals

    EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht last week strongly criticized the Obama administration for the restrictions it has sought to place on the European Commission's ability to share U.S. negotiating proposals made in bilateral trade and investment negotiations with the European Parliament and EU member state governments.

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