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This Week In Trade

With a pivotal Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ministerial meeting now set for late July, the focus of the U.S. trade agenda for this week and the two subsequent ones will be trying to narrow the outstanding issues in the negotiations to the point that ministers will be in a position to hammer out a deal.

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U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman last week signaled that the Obama administration is willing to give countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) additional access to the U.S. sugar market as long as this new access does not undermine the U.S. sugar program.

Updated: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade ministers are set to meet for two days beginning July 28 in Maui, Hawaii, to try and hammer out a deal, following several days of meetings there between chief negotiators, according to informed sources. Another source gave slightly different dates for the ministerial meeting, saying it would last four days instead of two.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on Wednesday (July 1) made clear he does not view the lack of a bilateral market access deal with Japan as an obstacle to making progress on the other outstanding issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which he identified as those relating to agricultural market access with Canada, intellectual property (IP), investment and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The European Union is planning to present a proposal at the July round of talks for the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) that aims to ensure a final deal not only cuts tariffs on green products but also lays the groundwork for a “living agreement” that could be expanded in the future to tackle issues like services and non-tariff barriers (NTBs), according to Geneva sources.

President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff this week announced new efforts to facilitate trade by increasing cooperation on standards-setting and international accreditation arrangements, and to hold a government-to-government meeting under the bilateral Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ATEC) before the end of the year.

Ahead of a visit by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to Washington this week, the Obama administration took the first step toward reopening the U.S. market to imports of fresh beef from Brazil, in a move that the U.S. beef industry and food-safety advocates blasted as aimed at scoring political points ahead of the presidential summit.

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  • The top-ranking Republican and Democrat of the Senate Agriculture Committee indicated there are not enough votes in the Senate to fully repeal the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law for beef, pork and poultry, instead saying they will work together to hammer out a consensus before the World Trade Organization decides the amount of U.S. trade Canada and Mexico can retaliate against.

  • The United States joined several other countries earlier this month in criticizing India for what they described as a unpredictable tariff regime and for increasing agricultural subsidies they allege distort the global marketplace.

Around the World

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  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) this week blasted language in a pending appropriations bill that would move the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative into the Department of Commerce, warning that it would be harmful to international trade negotiations without achieving any wider efficiencies.

  • China committed at this week's annual Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED) that it will not use new regulations to discriminate against foreign companies that wish to sell information technology equipment to Chinese banks, and that it will only intervene in foreign currency markets when necessary because of "disorderly" market conditions.

FTA Central

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  • The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has reshuffled the U.S. team leading the textile and apparel negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- one of the most sensitive areas of the talks -- amid what officials have described as the home stretch of the initiative, according to informed sources.

  • After months of hammering away at restrictions they alleged were out of step with the U.S.-South Korea free trade deal, U.S. business lobbyists are expressing satisfaction with a new draft Korean rule that would largely deregulate cross-border transfers of financial data.