SAN ANTONIO — Trade Promotion Authority legislation
introduced in Congress recently is further evidence that negotiations are moving
in the right direction, providing further hope for completion of trade
partnerships with the European Union and Trans-Pacific partners.
That was the feeling as trade officials spoke to Farm Bureau
members attending a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th
“With the world economy, things seem to be working in the
right direction, but we need to make sure trade is there to maximize the gains
of the economy and to speed it up,” said Ambassador João Vale de Almeida, head
of the delegation of the European Union to the U.S.
Speaking of the ongoing negotiations for the Transatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership, Vale de Almeida was hopeful barriers that
existed in the past will be overcome in the coming years.
“TTIP is the mother of all free trade agreements … and a
game changer for bilateral relations between the European Union and the United
States, potentially leading to 800 million high-spending and highly
sophisticated consumers,” Vale de Almeida said.
“It also has the potential to be a game changer globally, as
Americans and Europeans work to reenergize the world’s system, and do it
according to our values and principles.”
Having recently completed the third round of negotiations,
Vale de Almeida anticipated restarting negotiations soon, working on improving
market access and lowering tariffs and also including a strong regulatory
He hopes to bring tariffs closer to zero and remove
“behind-the-border barriers,” which also can serve as a form of tariffs. These
barriers can be as high as 10 percent to 20 percent when fully realized, he
Vale de Almeida was confident these negotiations will
continue to go well, having recently completed reforms of the European “Common
Agricultural Policy” moving away from support based on production and toward a
model that encourages rural development and rewards environmental
“Though a few obstacles remain, we are seriously and
sincerely engaged in opening up markets for American exports,” he said.
Rowena Hume, trade counselor for the New Zealand Embassy,
echoed Vale de Almeida’s comments on the positive nature of change taking place
regarding trade in her Pacific region.
Speaking on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Hume shared the
belief that improving the trade potential in the Trans-Pacific region will
greatly help American agricultural exports, which she said have decreased by 40
percent in recent years.
“Regaining market share would increase U.S. total exports by
$600 billion or 3 million jobs,” she said. “The TPP could increase exports by $2
billion, with the dairy industry benefiting the most.”
Hume said that agricultural trade with all TPP members
represents $150 billion — $79.6 billion for the U.S. alone — and 43 percent of
all U.S. agricultural exports.
Though some concerns remain — regarding geographic
indications in particular — both trade officials were hopeful these deals could
be passed in the coming years, with benefits to national economies, as well as
down to the individual farmers looking to increase consumers of their products.