Clinton team can't shake TPP
With help from Megan Cassella and Doug Palmer
CLINTON TEAM CAN’T SHAKE TPP: It looks like another Hillary Clinton acolyte is throwing into question the sincerity of her opposition to the TPP — this time it’s Ken Salazar, a former Colorado senator and Interior secretary, who will lead Clinton’s transition team. Salazar, like Clinton running mate Tim Kaine initially, has views on trade that run counter to hers.
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Salazar praised the 12-nation Asia-Pacific trade deal late last year for its economic and environmental benefits. He called the pact the “greenest trade deal ever” and said it would help middle-class families get ahead.
“The TPP promotes and rewards American firms that export our clean energy ingenuity, creating good jobs at home while shaping a renewable energy future abroad,” Salazar co-wrote in a USA Today op-ed in November alongside Bruce Babbitt, another former Interior secretary.
The campaign Tuesday announced Salazar’s appointment to its transition team, which will work with Clinton to generate a list of potential Cabinet secretaries and lower-level positions. The decision to name Salazar, with his pro-free trade background, raises further questions around Clinton’s anti-TPP stance as the former secretary of State has struggled to convince the liberal left that she will continue to oppose the deal if elected. Megan Cassella has the full story here.
IT’S WEDNESDAY, AUG. 17! Welcome to Morning Trade, where all this talk of TPP implementing legislation has led us to do a little light reading. Got anything to keep us busy as we descend deeper into August? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org or @abehsudi.
FROM THE LEFT, REACTION IS SWIFT: Progressive groups stood unified on Tuesday in a swift rebuke of Clinton’s decision to name Salazar to the transition post, with many saying they were disappointed by a move that illustrated why Clinton’s anti-TPP stance is hard for some to believe. Norman Solomon, national coordinator of the Bernie Delegates Network, said the pick was a step toward fulfilling accusations that her opposition to TPP is “nothing more than a cynical, phony and fleeting expedient.”
“If Clinton wants to weasel her way through the TPP issue and set off a war with progressives inside her own party in the process, she’s off to a great start,” Solomon said in a statement. Salazar’s appointment does not “automatically negate” Clinton’s strong opposition to the deal, added Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the grass-roots organization Democracy for America — but it is an “unnecessary misstep.”
Still, other anti-TPP groups discounted Salazar’s support of the trade deal as older views that were expressed before he joined her campaign. “His job is to support and further the Clinton policy agenda, and so I fully expect him to embrace Clinton’s opposition to the pact,” said Melinda Pierce, legislative director for the Sierra Club.
Regardless of Salazar’s views, however, the groups are remaining focused on the same goal they’ve been repeating for a while now. “The single most important thing Clinton can do,” said Demand Progress co-founder David Segal, “is make it clear that she’ll lead the opposition this fall by finally stating that she will oppose a lame-duck vote.”
DELAURO: SALAZAR SELECTION NOT A BIG DEAL: Despite the views of outside groups, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who is leading an effort to fight the TPP in the House, didn’t seem too concerned by Salazar’s selection.
“Secretary Clinton has made her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership very clear, having stated that she opposes the agreement now, will oppose it after the election, and will oppose it once in office,” the Connecticut Democrat said in a statement. “Ken Salazar’s appointment does nothing to change her stance, and if anything, it shows that advocates for the corporate drafted agreement are willing to switch sides and work to build an economy that works for every American worker.”
MEXICO REPLACES TWO TOP TRADE OFFICIALS: The Mexican government recently announced changes to two of its key trade posts with new officials now heading its WTO delegation in Geneva and its top trade office in Mexico City.
Mexico’s top official in charge of Asia, Oceania and multilateral trade affairs, Roberto Zapata Barradas, will take the reins in Geneva from long-serving WTO ambassador Fernando de Mateo, who will return to Mexico to help train trade negotiators in the office of foreign trade, the Mexican government said in a press release.
De Mateo held a number of important positions during his more than 15-year tenure at the WTO, including chairman of the Council for Trade in Services, Dispute Settlement Body and, since January, the General Council, the highest decision-making body at the WTO. Zapata will assume his post in Geneva once confirmed by the Mexican Senate.
Juan Carlos Baker Pineda will take over as undersecretary of international trade within the Economy Secretariat. Baker Pineda continues a 20-year career in the secretariat, where he has served as chief of cabinet for Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal and as director general in charge of NAFTA trade relations. He replaces Francisco de Rosenzweig, who oversaw Mexico’s involvement in TPP negotiations, on Sept. 10.
USTR TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE: The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced its plans to collect public comment and hold a Sept. 30 hearing on Russia’s compliance with World Trade Organization obligations, according to a notice published in today’s Federal Register.
The comment and hearing process will help USTR develop an annual report to Congress on Russia’s WTO compliance. The report, due by Dec. 21 of each year, is mandated by a law that granted Russia permanent normal trade relations, which was required for the U.S. to recognize its membership in the WTO. In cases where Russia is found to have failed to abide by WTO rules, USTR must describe in the report actions being taken to encourage compliance. Comments are due to USTR by Sept. 20.
ICYMI: RUSSIA LOSES AT THE WTO: In that same vein, a WTO panel issued a ruling last week that found Russia had not fully implemented a number of tariff concessions it committed to when it joined the global trade group. The European Union brought the case against Moscow for failing to reduce import duties on 11 tariff lines covering paper, refrigerators and palm oil. It’s the first challenge Russia has lost since it joined the WTO in 2012.
EU annual exports of paper product to Russia amount to about $268 million and are about $55 million for palm oil and $167 million for refrigerators, the European Commission said.
The Commission said Russia has brought some of the tariff lines into compliance during the proceedings. According to WTO regulation, the decision can be appealed within 60 days. If Russia does not appeal, it will be bound to comply with the recommendation to bring all the tariffs in line with WTO rules.
PHARMA LOBBYISTS, HATCH TAKE TO THE LINKS: Maybe Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch and the pharmaceutical industry got a little more clarity on what to do about the TPP biologics issue at Hatch’s annual Utah Charities Golf Challenge at the posh Montage Deer Valley last weekend. POLITICO Influence’s Isaac Arnsdorf reports that Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America lobbyists decamping to Salt Lake City were greeted at the airport by an ad for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, quoting one of PhRMA’s own press releases about the benefits of generic drugs. PhRMA recently lost three lobbyists and accepted generic drugmakers as members for the first time. PhRMA and GPhA have been at odds over the TPP as the two trade groups dueled over the agreement’s intellectual property rules.
TPP AND YOU: THE SHOE EDITION: Back-to-school shopping could be a whole lot cheaper if shoe tariff cuts under TPP were in force, according to a new report from the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, which represents Nike and major footwear importers like Wal-Mart and Target.
“We estimate American families could save $4 billion at retail on kids’ shoes over the full 12-year implementation process if TPP passes Congress,” Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, said in a statement accompanying their new report.
That level of savings is “making it harder and harder for us to understand the positions of the two presidential candidates on TPP when it would save families real money at a time they need it most, and on a product they have to buy on average of seven times a year per child due to growth spurts and various school and recreational activities,” Priest added.
Nearly all children’s shoes imported into the United States are hit with tariff rates of 37.5 percent to 67.5 percent, compared to an average tariff of 1.3 percent on other consumer goods, the report said. China is currently the largest supplier, but TPP member Vietnam has grown rapidly in recent years and is now the second largest.
VIRGINIA CHECKS OUT COLOMBIA: Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is leading a trade mission to Colombia, taking advantage of a 2012 free-trade agreement between the South American country and the United States. Virginia is a key export market for Colombian coffee, flowers and tobacco and two-way trade between Colombia and the state totals nearly $400 million annually, according to the Colombian government.
The visit is meant to accelerate U.S. investment in Colombia’s agricultural sector, with the Virginia delegation representing Glaize Orchards, Pilgrim’s Pride, Smithfield Foods, Turkey Knob Growers and The Scoular Company. McAuliffe and the delegation will meet with President Juan Manuel Santos and Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Maria Claudia Lacouture, among other officials.
A CALL TO SLOW DOWN ON BREXIT: The head of the biggest U.S.-U.K. business association says British officials should take all the time they need to figure out how to begin the country’s exit from the EU, POLITICO’s Caroline Kelly reports.
“Any pressing of that button has consequences, and we’ve said right from the beginning that when thinking about that timing, people should be very careful,” Jeffries Briginshaw, CEO of the British-American Business Council, told POLITICO this week from London. He noted that once the Brexit process starts, it could be “difficult to slow down or control.”
“The key is to know what you want before you do anything,” he added.
Briginshaw, whose organization represents more than 2,000 member companies in the United States and the United Kingdom, actually falls into the camp — call them the Brexit skeptics — that doubts the British government will ultimately invoke the “Article 50” trigger that would begin formal Brexit negotiations with Brussels. After all, the British Parliament still has to act to officially start the Brexit process. Read the full story here.
— Rep. Peter DeFazio says Obama supports TPP “because he has little or no knowledge of economics,” the Albany Democrat-Herald reports.
— Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, said he is undecided on TPP but said he supports strong trade deals in concept, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports.
— The largest trade dispute the WTO has ever seen pitting aircraft giants Boeing and Airbus against each other is set to enter a crucial phase, Reuters reports.
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