Trade Gurus & Public Affairs Mavens

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: what’s in it for us?

LAHAINA, Hawaii — This column is not about supply management. It’s not about agriculture. The media has been shining a bright light on trade in agricultural products lately, because this is where the most serious barriers exist among the nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Food security is an issue – a reluctance to rely on foreign supplies of food. Subsidies are the 800-pound gorilla in the TPP. Deep pockets should not determine success. Larry Herman points out in the Financial Post that the U.S. is a superstar in the farm support league.

Domestic farm support is not addressed in the TPP. Nor are agricultural export subsidies – which are by their nature intrinsically evil. Export subsidies should have been eliminated under the Doha Round by 2013. They are still alive and well in the largest agricultural exporting countries.

The TPP is about much more than farm trade. Indeed, it is about much more than traditional trade issues. The TPP gets into non-trade turf issues which have complicated and delayed progress. These are the main hurdles in Maui this week.

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