Trade Battles: TPP Negotiations Heading Toward Major Obstacles?

The negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership – one involving a number of Southeast Asian nations as well as the United States, Canada and Peru, among others – are not going that well, and there is not much reason to assume that this situation will change much. The sticky issue is the same as it often is: agriculture.

The TPP is supposed to bring together the nations of the Pacific in some kind of trade partnership that will advance their respective economies. This is not the first time that there has been an attempt to unite the nations touched by the Pacific and it will doubtless not be the last. Japan is now considering membership, and that is part of what has been roiling trade talks.

There have been some agreements on the most noncontroversial aspects of trade, but the more critical parts have been largely ignored, as there is no consensus on what to do about them. The issue of access for farm output is always a major point of contention, and it has preoccupied the current gathering. Opposition in Japan is coming from the farmers as they are dead against any significant import of food that is grown in Japan, however inefficiently. The U.S. is all for Japan joining, but American farmers (and their lobby) want nothing to do with a trade pact that doesn’t give them access to new markets.

The inclusion of some Latin states on the Pacific border also complicates matters, as U.S. farmers are already pressured by the output from Mexico and Chile and they are not eager to see an expanded level of competition. U.S. issues involving the budget battle also could have an impact on appointment of trade officials and staff as well as willingness to sign onto anything that could lead to more imports in certain categories.

-Armada Corporate Intelligence

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