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This Week In Trade

As this week kicks off, the trade world is still recovering from a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ministerial that wrapped up last Friday in Hawaii without an agreement due to stumbling blocks on the auto rule of origin, dairy market access and protections for biologic drugs, even though negotiators made real progress on a range of other issues.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries are discussing the idea of holding their next ministerial in conjunction with the Aug. 22-25 meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, of trade ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its trading partners, but have not yet made a decision about whether to do so, sources said.

A World Trade Organization compliance panel late last week largely upheld U.S. claims in a fight with China over 2013 trade remedy duties imposed on U.S. exports of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES).

The Senate Appropriations Committee late last month approved amendments to a government funding bill that could potentially make it easier for U.S. agricultural exporters to ship to Cuba by dismantling key remaining parts of the U.S. embargo against the island. But the future of the amendments and the funding bill itself remains uncertain.

LAHAINA, Hawaii – Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo on Friday (July 31) made no apologies for seeking stronger rules of origin for Mexico's auto industry in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, but rejected the notion that his country was the only one that held up a resolution on autos, which was a key obstacle to an agreement.

Corrected: LAHAINA, Hawaii – Akira Amari, Japan's minister in charge of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, said Friday (July 31) after the conclusion of a four-day meeting that failed to yield a deal that he and his counterparts share a common understanding that they should meet again before the end of August.

LAHAINA, Hawaii – After a roller-coaster day of negotiations, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ministers on Friday (July 31) ended a four-day ministerial without even an agreement in principle, after the talks broke down primarily over automobiles, although dairy market access also remained unresolved.

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World Trade Organization

Top Stories

  • Taiwan and Thailand this week formally notified the World Trade Organization's General Council of their acceptance of the expanded product scope in the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), thereby ensuring that all major IT producers will be covered under the expanded agreement.

  • The World Trade Organization last Friday (July 24) ruled against a U.S. ban on live animal and fresh beef imports from Argentina that Washington opted to repeal as the dispute was being argued, finding that the prohibition had discriminated against Argentine imports and that the U.S. had contradicted an international animal health standard in doing so.

Around the World

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  • Trade staffers for the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance committees are aiming to hash out their differences on the pending customs and enforcement bill prior to the initiation of formal conference proceedings in order to avoid triggering a debate on the legislation on the House floor, according to congressional sources.

  • Chances are dimming for a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank this fall after the House and Senate failed to include it in a short-term extension of a highway bill this week, though the Senate did include it in a longer-term extension of the highway bill it passed on Thursday (July 30) by a vote of 65-34.

FTA Central

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  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) in a July 30 floor speech charged that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is seeking to protect anti-tobacco regulations from challenges under the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which he said is unfair to a major U.S. export important to his and other states.

  • Groups seeking to build opposition to the U.S.-EU trade talks in Europe are facing difficulties in fundraising and organizing in former Eastern Bloc countries and in austerity-hit states primarily in the south, even as they gather steam in larger, richer member states, according to a strategy document obtained by Inside U.S. Trade.