TTIP leak: Scandalous or business as usual?
With help from Doug Palmer and Hans von der Buchard
TTIP LEAK: SCANDALOUS OR BUSINESS AS USUAL? Greenpeace Netherlands this morning leaked 13 chapters from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, showing clashes over agriculture, car exports and wine names, reports POLITICO Europe’s Hans von der Burchard. The documents show that “TTIP would put corporations at the center of policymaking, to the detriment of environment and public health,” Jorgo Riss, the NGO’s director, said.
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EU officials are brushing off the disclosures as nothing more than business as usual, however. Greenpeace is warping the facts, said Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, the EU’s chief negotiator. “Some points that Greenpeace is making in these documents are flatly wrong,” he said at a Monday press conference. Pro subscribers can click here to read more.
No precautionary principle? French newspaper Le Monde, which got an early peek at the leak, said it’s worried that at no point in the leaked documents does the European Union make reference to the precautionary principle, which allows the certification of new products and particularly drugs in the EU only if the producer can prove that they do no harm. European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has repeatedly said the precautionary principle would not be abolished under TTIP or replaced, as some skeptics fear, by an opposite system under which new medicines are able to get a license unless authorities can prove that they contain a risk. Stay tuned for more as we dig through the documents.
WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK: Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman will travel to Asia to meet with government officials in South Korea and China. His stop in Beijing comes just a few weeks before the two sides are scheduled to hold their annual high-level Strategic and Economic Dialogue. On the other side of the Pacific, USTR Michael Froman is continuing his TPP campaign in Los Angeles today. He will participate in a conversation at the Milken Institute, moderated by POLITICO’s Ben White.
Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland will be in D.C. on Monday to meet with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo in preparation for the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa in June. U.S. and Canadian regulators will also meet Wednesday and Thursday to talk about the agenda for 2016-17 in areas such as chemicals management, energy efficiency standards and food safety.
MEET THE NEW CURRENCY REPORT: In its newly enhanced report on foreign currency practices, the Treasury Department still didn’t name any country as a currency manipulator. But it did put China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Germany on notice that it will closely watch their foreign exchange practices over the next six months.
The department said Friday that it is placing the five countries on a new “monitoring list” that will now be a part of the semi-annual report, using new criteria set by Congress in the recently approved customs reauthorization bill. Although the list itself carries no penalties, it means Treasury will be watching their behavior, and the law authorizes President Barack Obama to take a number of steps to pressure countries on the currency front when certain conditions are met.
No administration — Republican or Democratic — has named any country a currency manipulator since 1994, when China was cited. Click here to read more from Pro Trade’s Doug Palmer.
Meanwhile, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady touted the new aspects of the report. Hatch said the new requirements “provided the Treasury Department with the tools that it needed to produce a more effective analysis and a higher-quality report.” Brady added in his own statement: “Today, we learned that five countries have been identified as meeting two of three criteria requiring enhanced action, which can lead to significant enforcement costs to those countries.”
U.S., EU NOT CUTTING TTIP CARBS: The top U.S. negotiator for TTIP said Friday that he believes it’s possible to conclude a deal this year without leaving behind any controversial issues.
“The United States has no interest in a ‘TTIP Lite,’” said Dan Mullaney, the assistant U.S. trade representative for Europe and the Middle East, in the closing press conference for last week’s negotiating round. “We believe there remains sufficient time to complete an ambitious, comprehensive and high-standard TTIP agreement this year if we continue our intensive engagement, and we mobilize the necessary political will, effort and determination on both sides.” His EU counterpart, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, echoed that a “TTIP Lite” would be unacceptable.
The U.S. agriculture industry, for example, hopes to use TTIP to remove tariffs and bureaucratic barriers to selling to EU consumers, but it fears different approaches to food safety and marketing will lead the two sides to punt on some of those issues. The EU, meanwhile, wants its firms to have better access to U.S. government contracts as well as to secure protection for geographically related food names.
Mullaney said negotiating teams at all levels are meeting, “in some cases almost daily.” He cited several chapters that he said were in a “very advanced stage of negotiations,” including those related to small and medium-sized enterprises, customs and trade facilitation and competition.
ISDS: WE CAN WORK IT OUT: Mullaney also argued there are a lot of similar goals in the U.S. and EU proposals for investor-state dispute settlement, the controversial mechanism that allows investors to sue foreign governments for damages.
“There is significant convergence when it comes to the objectives for international arbitration,” he said. For example, both the U.S. and EU want to make sure frivolous claims can be dismissed, parties have the opportunity to issue binding interpretations of the agreement, proceedings are transparent, arbitrators are free of conflicts of interest, and there is “consistent jurisprudence,” he added.
Mullaney didn’t go into any more detail. But in an effort to avoid conflicts of interest, for example, the EU’s ISDS proposal would develop a set roster of judges that can hear cases, while the U.S. wants ethics standards for judges, as it negotiated in the TPP.
The EU recently reformed its ISDS proposal in an attempt to make the mechanism more transparent and accountable in the face of widespread fears in Europe that it could undermine health and environmental regulations.
STILL NO FINSERV IN TTIP: Garcia Bercero, meanwhile, publicly confirmed that the EU would not put forward a TTIP market access offer in the area of financial services until the Treasury Department and the European Commission reach a deal on how and where they will cooperate on financial regulations.
“Our colleagues at [the commission’s directorate-general for financial services] have over the last month been discussing with the Department of the Treasury on substance what can be done to reinforce cooperation on regulatory issues in financial services,” he said at the press conference. Once a “common understanding” is reached, he added, the EU would submit a market access offer.
“For now both sides maintain their views,” he said, referring to the EU desire to tie financial regulatory cooperation to TTIP and the U.S. view that it should stay in other forums like the Financial Markets Regulatory Dialogue.
ICYMI: WALLOON PARLIAMENT REJECTS CETA: In further evidence of the public opposition to free trade deals in Europe, the Parliament of Belgian region Wallonia last week voted against ratification of the EU-Canada free trade agreement. The Parliament is worried about social and environmental norms and the investor-state arbitration system.
The resolution, adopted 44-22 with nine abstentions, asks the Walloon government not to give permission to the federal government to sign the treaty. “We want the federal government to pass on our concerns about CETA to the European Council,” and to also submit the trade deal to the European Court of Justice to check its constitutional conformity, Hélène Ryckmans, member of the Walloon Parliament for the green party Ecolo, told our European Morning Trade counterpart.
TPP ‘NOT THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN’ FOR ASIA-PACIFIC: That was the warning from Singapore’s ambassador to the United States, Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, at a press lunch at the National Foreign Trade Council on Friday, where he noted the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between China, India, Japan and 13 other Pacific Rim countries is inching its way to conclusion. “The U.S. is not in RCEP,” Mirpuri said. “The U.S. is not in some of the other strategic economic agreements that are there. For the U.S. to be left out of everything will raise the question of what is the U.S. role in the Asia-Pacific?”
STAY TUNED ON TUNA LABELING: The World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body will hold a special meeting May 9, where it will consider whether to form another compliance panel to judge whether U.S. dolphin-safe labeling requirements for tuna are consistent with global trade rules.
The U.S. tried and failed in 2013 to come into compliance with the original ruling. After Mexico proposed slapping duties on close to $475 million in U.S. exports, Washington issued new regulations in March that raised standards for tuna caught in other fisheries to qualify for the dolphin-safe label, bringing them up to the requirements for the Eastern Tropical Pacific.
FYI: THAT CUSTOMS HEARING: The Senate Finance Committee has rescheduled its hearing on customs and trade enforcement for May 11 at 10 a.m. The hearing, which was postponed after being originally scheduled for April 21, will focus on implementation of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 and feature testimony from Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske.
PLUS! ANOTHER STEEL CASE: The Commerce Department said late Friday that it has launched anti-dumping investigations into imports of cut-to-length steel plate from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan and Turkey and countervailing duty probes of the same product from Brazil, China and South Korea. ArcelorMittal USA, Nucor Corporation and SSAB Enterprises filed the petition asking for relief. Imports of the steel plate from the 12 countries totaled more than $600 million in 2015. South Korea, Germany and France were the biggest suppliers.
President Barack Obama told the New York Times that he pursued TPP in an effort to help shape inevitable globalization.
French President Francois Hollande said he would not support a TTIP deal that threatened French agriculture, The Japan Times reports.
A Mexican union leader at a Bernie Sanders rally said workers in his country are being denied “basic functions of life,” according to the Indianapolis Star.
China’s imports of pork more than doubled in March, Global Meat News reports.
Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says the country’s trade policy is not aimless, according to the Economic Times.
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