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Agribiz: Poultry leaders back neighbors in trade deal, with conditions

POSTED: September 26, 2012 11:30 p.m.

Over the past few weeks, I have talked about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which should benefit Georgia’s poultry industry by opening up economically competitive trade routes to other parts of the world. Now it appears that negotiations are looking positive with our neighbors to our north and south.

In response to the U.S. International Trade Commission’s request for comments and investigation on negotiating objectives with respect to Mexico’s and Canada’s participation in the proposed agreement, the National Chicken Council and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council expressed support and offered suggested conditions for the two countries’ inclusion in the trade pact.

“Mexico’s membership is unconditionally supported by our industry and we view its inclusion as an opportunity to demonstrate improved relations by our government agencies and, thusly, both of our industries,” said NCC President Mike Brown and USAPEEC President Jim Sumner in testimony submitted in conjunction with a trade commission public hearing on the investigation Sept. 12.

“Canada’s participation in the TPP would also be considered a positive opportunity by our industry, provided that Canada agrees in advance to put its import protection policies on the negotiating table.”

TPP discussions initially began without either Canada or Mexico, who are longstanding partners with the U.S. in the North American Free Trade Agreement. In a request letter to the trade commission, the U.S. trade representative stated that Canada and Mexico have joined negotiations and asked the USITC to provide advice concerning the probable economic effect of a U.S. free trade agreement with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

In their testimony, Brown and Sumner stressed that Mexico’s participation in the agreement does not offer anything in terms of tariff reductions since the two countries have long eliminated duties on poultry products.

What it does offer, they said, “is an opportunity for the two governments to negotiate on the two issues that remain thorns in the side of liberalized trade in poultry: lack of productive movement on sanitary and phytosanitary issues and the use of bogus antidumping cases to hinder trade.”

Two negotiating objectives for Mexico’s inclusion in the trade deal were also suggested:

1. The negotiation of a specific and mutually agreed work-plan and timetable for recognition of END-free areas in Mexico, and for recognition of equivalency of the Mexican poultry inspection systems, with a view toward establishing an acceptable level of two-way trade as soon as possible, consistent with public and animal health protection.

2. The negotiation of a “peace clause” that would prevent either country from bringing antidumping cases, or imposing antidumping duties, on the other’s poultry products.

Brown and Sumner noted that the U.S. poultry industry’s experience with Canada in NAFTA has been much less successful, noting the country’s import restrictions have violated treaty rules since the agreement’s inception.

“The U.S. poultry industry strongly opposes Canada’s participation in TPP unless Canada expressly commits to removing all border restrictions on poultry imports from the United States, including any restrictions claimed on the basis of supply control,” they said. “Canada is free to maintain its domestic supply control system if it wishes, but it cannot maintain border restrictions on poultry if it wants to participate in a free trade arrangement such as TPP.”

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears biweekly on Thursday’s Business page and at gainesvilletimes.com. 


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