January 19, 2020

Trade Update: Cuba, Trans-Pacific Partnership

Categories: Trade

Cuba Trade Issues

Recall that last week, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) “led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to introduce major legislation to lift the Cuba trade embargo.”

Colby Itkowitz indicated on Tuesday at the In the Loop Blog (Washington Post) that Sen. Klobuchar was wrapping up a four day trip to Cuba with Senators Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) and Mark Warner (D.,Va.).

Ms. Itkowitz pointed out that, “More Democrats are excited about the prospects of opening up Cuba than Republicans, but Klobuchar said she’s hearing positive things from GOP lawmakers, especially those representing big farm states. The agriculture and business communities are eager to tap into a newly expanded market, which could help sway reluctant Republicans. (Currently U.S. agricultural exports are allowed to Cuba, but only on a cash-basis.)”

Brett Neely reported on Tuesday at the Capitol View Blog (Minnesota Public Radio) that, “Another member of the Minnesota delegation who is on the island is U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, who represents the 7th District. He is part of a delegation of Democrats led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that also is focusing on trade and agriculture. Peterson has been pushing for years to ease travel restrictions on U.S. citizens to Cuba.

“Although agricultural trade between Minnesota and Cuba clocked in at a modest $20 million in 2013 (limited trade has been allowed despite the embargo), the state’s business community views the island as a potentially lucrative market. Agribusiness giant Cargill has helped organize a coalition of companies to press for an end to the embargo.”

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

A news release on Tuesday from the House Ways and Means Committee indicated that, “On Monday, a congressional delegation led by Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) held meetings in Singapore, the first of three Asian nations the group will visit on the week-long trip.

“Singapore is one of the United States’s strongest partners in the region, and the two nations maintain an important economic and national-security relationship. The country is also playing a critical role in bringing the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to a successful conclusion…The members reaffirmed the United States’s goal to achieve a high-standard TPP agreement in the near term, and they encouraged the government of Singapore to use its leadership position in the region to help meet that goal. The delegation impressed upon the officials the importance of issues like strong intellectual-property protections, increased access for American agriculture and disciplining state-owned enterprises.”

Jacqui Fatka reported on Tuesday at Farm Futures Online that, “Last year’s Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations were marked by Japan’s unwillingness to lower tariffs and restrictions on key agricultural and auto markets, but the tide could be changing.

Darci Vetter, chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, says that negotiations are ‘entering the end game‘ although the timeline will be decided when tough issues can be resolved.”

Ms. Fatka added that, “Vetter said TPA is ‘critical to getting a trade deal across the finish line.’ It allows negotiating partners to understand that whatever deal is agreed upon will be the one put into final action.”

And U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman penned an argument at Foreign Policy magazine on Tuesday titled, “The Geopolitical Stakes of America’s Trade Policy.”

More broadly on trade, the USDA Press Team tweeted the following update on Tuesday:

Keith Good

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