Levin Statement on Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations

Oct 27, 2014 Issues: Trade

WASHINGTON – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today made the following statement regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations after attending the ministerial meeting in Sydney, Australia, which ended Monday. During his stay, Ranking Member Levin attended briefings on key issue areas and met with U.S. negotiators, TPP trade officials and stakeholders:

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is potentially the most far-reaching trade agreement in decades because of the countries and issues involved. Some of my observations of the status of the negotiations are as follows:

· With substantial work having been done, going forward there needs to be a sharp focus on the what, not the when. It is the substance of a TPP agreement that matters.

· The United States has never negotiated a comprehensive trade agreement with some of the TPP parties. TPP therefore presents a special opportunity and special challenges. Vietnam and Malaysia, for example, have very different structures from our own. And we must confront Japan's longstanding and persistent exclusions of agricultural and automotive products from its markets.

· Very important principles are being discussed in the negotiations, on a broad range of issues. While the text must reflect these principles, the devil will be in the details of the text, in the annexes and the 'non-conforming measures,’ and in the implementation of the obligations. That is true in critical areas, including the environment, state-owned enterprises, labor rights, and a broad range of market access issues.

· The quantity of increased trade is important. But in this new era of globalization, the most important test is its quality, its potential impact on the lives of people. The goal must be to ensure that the potential benefits of trade are spread broadly to the many, not just the few.

· The May 10 structure, which I helped negotiate, was a major breakthrough on the rights of workers, environmental protections, and access to medicines, and it is vital that TPP build on them, not weaken them.

· There are many outstanding, unresolved issues pinpointed in most chapters or not yet considered, so now it is vital to have an open door for a broad understanding and involvement on how they should be resolved, with increased transparency. We need more public input and debate on all of the mentioned issues, as well as intellectual property, food safety and investment.

· Recognizing geopolitical ramifications, the key test of an agreement must be on the vital trade aspects themselves.”