White House touts key trade win

White House touts key trade win
© Getty Images

The Obama administration claimed a major trade victory Thursday in a dispute over India’s ban on certain agricultural exports from the United States.

The World Trade Organization’s appellate body upheld a previous finding that India's concerns about U.S. exports such as poultry, meat, eggs and live pigs are not based on international standards or proper risk assessment measures.

“This decision affirms the importance of basing agricultural trade requirements on sound science,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackThomas James VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE.

ADVERTISEMENT
“This is a major win for U.S. agriculture and, in particular, the U.S poultry industry.”  

The White House is pushing an ambitious trade agenda, arguing that forging new agreements will improve the enforcement of global trading rules and help U.S. workers.

The Obama administration is arguing that its win streak should convince lawmakers of the importance of passing trade promotion authority (TPA), or fast-track, which would give President Obama the ability to negotiate new agreements.

“I welcome this win, which will help us eliminate unjustified trade barriers so U.S. farmers can sell high quality U.S. agricultural products to customers around the world,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanOn The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision Democrats give Trump trade chief high marks US trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report MORE.  

“The administration is fully committed to enforcing U.S. rights to ensure Americans benefit from all the opportunities the United States has negotiated under our trade agreements,” Froman said.

Fast-track would pave the way for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a deal with 11 other nations that the White House argues would raise global trade standards to unprecedented levels.

ADVERTISEMENT
But many liberal Democrats and some Republicans are concerned about ceding too much of their congressional authority to the White House in shaping the trade deals.

Some lawmakers argue that they simply aren't convinced that the TPP or other pending trade agreements will deliver on their promised high standards and will merely be a repeat of bad past trade policy.

USTR said that since 2009, the administration has won all 19 enforcement actions they have brought at the WTO and this latest win should reflect how serious it is about enforcing trade rules.  

On Wednesday, Vilsack wrote a blog post arguing that the U.S. must enter into new trade deals to remain competitive and the president needs fast-track to keep that edge.

“The world is becoming even more competitive — opportunities and power are taken out of the hands of hardworking American farmers and put into the hands of their competitors," Vilsack wrote.

"New trade agreements are only possible if our negotiators can speak with one voice to negotiate free and fair trade deals," he wrote.

Now being considered in Congress," TPA "allows them to do just that."