(Reuters) - President Barack Obama has called on Congress to grant him fast-track trade authority for his Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement. The administration insists the authority, which would give Congress only an up-or-down vote on the agreement, is needed to get the best possible terms from its trade partners along the Pacific Rim. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama promised to renegotiate and improve the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But it now looks like what he really meant is to expand on that flawed trade model and extend it to other countries. Twenty-one years after NAFTA and four years after Obama's 2011 U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, there is abundant data documenting how this trade model has been disastrous for most U.S. businesses, farmers and workers. Since the pacts were implemented, U.S. trade deficits, which drag down economic growth, have soared more than 430 percent with our free-trade partners. In the same … [Read more...] about As free trade pacts expand, U.S. trade deficit soars. Why add one more?
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The United States has floated excluding tobacco products from a key section of a 12-nation Pacific trade deal and signaled it may present a formal proposal to trading partners at talks in Australia, sources briefed on the negotiations said. Dropping tobacco from the investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, section of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would prevent tobacco companies taking action against any TPP government under those legal protections, for example over health care measures. Marlboro maker Philip Morris International is challenging Australia's plain packaging laws, which ban branded cigarette packs, under the country's investment treaty with Hong Kong, arguing that the laws breach intellectual property rights. One source, who has knowledge of the negotiations but asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the discussions, said the United States had floated the idea of a carve-out for tobacco under ISDS among senior TPP officials. No language had yet been … [Read more...] about U.S. floats cutting tobacco from part of Pacific trade pact: sources
The 12 nations brokering a Pacific-rim trade deal will continue talks as the U.S. and Japan were unable to overcome key differences in advance of a planned visit by President Barack Obama to Japan. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari yesterday concluded talks in Washington on the Trans-Pacific Partnership without striking a deal on some of the most contentious issues. "After more than 20 hours of negotiations, we continue to make progress," the U.S. trade office announced yesterday in an unsigned statement. "These issues are important to both sides and considerable differences remain." Negotiators had accelerated their work -- meeting in Tokyo last week and Washington this week -- as President Barack Obama prepares to visit Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea April 24-28. The nations forging the pact aren't holding themselves to a specific deadline and will take the time necessary to achieve a good … [Read more...] about U.S.-Japan talks said unable to overcome deal obstacles
Binh Nguyen Speaking to members of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) and Fulbright Economic Teaching Program participants at the American Center in HCMC last Saturday, Kerry touched on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as "another great transformation that could open more doors to opportunity" for the U.S. and Vietnam. "Today, we're on the doorstep of another great transformation that could open more doors to opportunity, and it could make our partnership much more vibrant, and frankly, could make our markets a lot more energized and rewarding. What I'm talking about are the opportunities that would come from the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the high-standard trade pact that Vietnam and the United States are negotiating with 10 of our Pacific partners," Kerry said. "The partnership's high standards would maintain the momentum that has been created for market reforms, for modernization, for regional integration that the Government of Vietnam has actually made a priority. … [Read more...] about More opportunities for growing U.S.-Vietnam ties
Argentina came under a barrage of criticism at the World Trade Organization on Friday, where the United States, European Union, Japan and 10 other countries accused it of tying up imports in red tape. Argentina's center-left government has imposed a raft of sometimes unorthodox import restrictions in recent years as it battles to shield local industry and its trade surplus, which shrank 11 percent in 2011 to $10.4 billion. On February 1, President Cristina Fernandez's administration imposed a new system to pre-approve, or reject, nearly every purchase from abroad. "It appears that this new system is operating as a de facto import-restricting scheme on all products," the U.S. ambassador to the WTO, Michael Punke, said, according to a transcript provided to Reuters by one of the participants. The critics described the policy as "unbefitting any WTO member" and "particularly troubling" because they limit the growth-enhancing prospects for trade. They demanded Argentina take immediate … [Read more...] about U.S., EU blast Argentina’s trade restrictions at WTO