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  • OTLT.USA
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  • OTRI.USA
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  • OTVI.USA
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
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American Shipper

Commerce prepares industry for TPP implementation

The U.S. Commerce Department plans ahead for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite uncertainty whether Congress will ratify the trade agreement.

   The Commerce Department is working to help businesses prepare for liberalized trade rules with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, even though it remains an open question if Congress will approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
   TPP negotiations were completed in October and the final agreement was signed by trade ministers earlier this month in New Zealand.
   Under fast-track Trade Promotion Authority rules approved by Congress last summer, the free trade agreement’s text must be available for public and congressional review for 90 days before the treaty can be signed by the president. That period is coming to an end, but congressional leaders have not indicated when they might put the issue on the docket for debate. There is talk in Washington that the trade agreement is too contentious to bring up during the presidential election season and that a vote might be tabled until after the November election. Many Democrats oppose the TPP, saying it doesn’t have enough protections to ensure U.S. jobs aren’t outsourced overseas. Republicans are reluctant to hand President Obama a political victory. 
   Meanwhile, business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Business Roundtable, and National Association of Manufacturers are calling for the trade agreement to be ratified, saying it will increase U.S. exports. However, some are urging President Obama to make some changes to the deal to help smooth its passage. That would require new concessions by other nations.
   The Commerce Department will spend the next few months on outreach to educate different industry sectors about TPP and create a user guide for companies to take advantage of the agreement once it enters into force, Jean Janicke, the department’s TPP coordinator, told the department’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness during a briefing last month in Washington.
   “We found, for example, with the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement that the time between entry into force and when we started seeing exporters take advantage of it was about six months. So with TPP, we’re trying to think ahead about what things businesses can be doing now to plan for eventual TPP implementation,” she said.
   Larger companies are already planning how to source and ship products to maximize the benefits of new trade preferences, but “smaller companies are going to need more lead time,” Janicke added.
   Commerce Department specialists for industry sectors and domestic offices are trying to do as many TPP-focused local events as possible to explain at a granular level what actions companies need to take to make use of the reduced trade restrictions.
   Detailed info about the benefits of TPP, by state and industry, is available here

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