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Inside U.S. Trade - March 6, 2015

Blurry Line Between TPA, TPP Poses Challenge For Fast-Track Supporters

The continuing delay in introducing a bill to renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or "fast track," is alarming some of its supporters because it means congressional action on the legislation may come so close to the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that a vote on the TPA may become a referendum on the trade deal itself.

AFL-CIO Suspends Political Contributions To Lawmakers Ahead Of TPA Vote

New Chamber TTIP Paper Goes Beyond U.S., EU Proposals On Regulation

Negotiators Strive To Complete 'Technical Work' In Hawaii, Amid Skepticism

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Darci Vetter, chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, will attend part of the March 9-15 informal Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) round in Hawaii to hold talks on outstanding agriculture issues with officials from Japan and other countries, according to a USTR spokesman.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will lead a congressional delegation to Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Myanmar and Cambodia during the March 30-April 10 Easter recess, according to informed sources. One source said the delegation would consist of seven other House Democrats in addition to Pelosi.

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), chairman of the House Ways & Means trade subcommittee, says the House Republican leadership will invoke its formal whip machinery to round up votes for a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill, and that this effort will take place in tandem with an informal whip operation he is spearheading and expects to ramp up in April once a bill is introduced.

The European Parliament's agricultural rapporteur for the U.S.-EU trade talks this week said that his party -- whose support is necessary to pass the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) -- is divided over how a potential deal should handle agricultural issues, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules as well as an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS).

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman this week committed to hold a series of substantive briefings for members of the House Democratic caucus on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, without giving details of when these will take place and how they will be structured, according to informed sources.

Sixty-four unions belonging to the AFL-CIO and Change To Win federations this week displayed an unprecedented unanimity of opposition to fast-track negotiating authority in a joint letter sent to Congress as the leaders of almost 20 million U.S. workers and their families.

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  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) this week said he does not expect Congress to consider a bill to renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) before April, as he is still at odds with Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) over language in the legislation that would allow Congress to strip a completed trade agreement of fast-track protection.

  • South Africa's newly appointed envoy on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) this week said his country is urgently working to settle a dispute over antidumping (AD) duties on U.S. poultry that the U.S. industry charges has cut off its access to that market before Congress considers the renewal of the preference program this spring.

FTA Central

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  • Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler is traveling to Tokyo this week to hold a new round of talks with Japanese officials on market access and auto trade under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), before heading to South Korea for discussions on a range of trade issues, including Seoul's interest in joining TPP, according to a USTR spokesman.

  • The European Union's college of commissioners on March 4 agreed to set up a new high-level oversight body for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to ensure that the various arms of the EU's executive branch take a coordinated approach to the trade talks.