Manufacturing groups press for broad tariff elimination

More than a dozen manufacturing groups on Friday urged the Obama administration to press for the elimination of all tariffs as part of the Asia-Pacific trade deal negotiations.

The groups — 17 in all — led by the National Association of Manufacturers sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman calling for the elimination of tariffs on a wide range of industrial goods particularly in Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

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"The immediate elimination of manufacturing tariffs in TPP partner countries is a vital prerequisite to achieve a TPP that will link America’s highly productive manufacturers to new consumers around the world," they wrote. 

"Especially at this critical juncture in the negotiations, manufacturers strongly urge you and your negotiating team to achieve the strongest possible market-opening outcome that will substantially boost manufacturers’ competitiveness and ability to expand their exports throughout the Asia-Pacific region to create and maintain jobs here at home."

The 12-nation TPP is wrapping up its latest round of talks with leaders, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pressing for the completion of a deal by year's end. 

Trade representative officials have several meetings planned with Japanese leaders next week on outstanding agriculture and auto issues. 

“As the TPP talks move forward, we urge that the final agreement provide that our TPP partners agree to the immediate elimination of tariffs on the broadest range of industrial goods possible and that all tariffs be eliminated within a reasonable time period with no sector or product exclusions or carve outs,” the manufacturing groups wrote. 

To groups are focused on nixing tariffs on a broad range of U.S. manufactured exports such as automobiles and motor vehicle parts; chemicals; agricultural goods; construction, electrical and mining equipment and machinery; steel, paper and wood products; and distilled spirits. 

With TPP countries representing $28 trillion in gross domestic product and almost 800 million consumers that account for about 40 percent of global trade, “the TPP’s potential to drive new growth and opportunity for manufacturers in the United States is substantially larger than any previous free trade agreement that the United States has negotiated if it achieves the comprehensive and effective market opening, high-standard and enforceable provisions envisioned.”

In addition, as in past free trade agreements, all TPP members are likely to agree to join the Information Technology Agreement, which eliminates tariffs on information and communications and technology products.