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U.S. Trade Negotiations Aim to Raise Labor and Environmental Standards

A Conversation on the President's Trade Agenda with Michael Froman

Speaker: Michael B.G. Froman, United States Trade Representative
Presider: Charlene Barshefsky, Senior International Partner, WilmerHale; Former United States Trade Representative
June 16, 2014

Event Description

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman sits down with Charlene Barshefsky of WilmerHale to give an update on the status of the United States' current international trade negotiations. Though talks are still ongoing, Froman is optimistic that negotiations for both the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will ultimately be successful. Froman says that the TPP will commit members to upholding high standards in the areas of labor rights, intellectual property, and environmental protection.

This meeting is part of the C. Peter McColough Series on International Economics, presented by the Corporate Program and the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies.

Event Highlights

Michael Froman on whether trade promotion authority is necessary to successfully complete the current trade negotiations:

"We'd like to get Trade Promotion Authority that's got broad bipartisan support. And we're working with members of Congress, and both Houses, and both parties, as they think through what that's going to take. But as the president said in February at a press conference, I think it was in Mexico, the only guarantee that an agreement gets through Congress is that we bring back a good agreement. And that's why our focus is on making sure—in TPP or in TTIP—that we're bringing back that agreement. We think we know what that involves."

Michael Froman on the status of the ongoing negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty:

"Our goal is to complete this round of TPP with the 12 countries that are at the table. And that means that we're going to have to reach an agreement that meets the overall objectives of TPP; ambitious, comprehensive, high standard. There are two tracks to this negotiation. One is about a set of rules, intellectual property rights, labor, environment, SOEs, things of that sort. And the other are about market access. And we're making good progress on both tracks. But we're not there on either. There are outstanding rules issues. There are outstanding market-access issues that we're going to continue to press on both of these until we get a high-quality agreement."

Michael Froman on the major unresolved issues in the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership treaty:

"But the real opportunity, and the biggest challenge, is whether we can bring two well-regulated markets closer together, and eliminate barriers that are caused by divergences in our approaches to regulation and standards, and do so in a way that doesn't lower the level. Because it's not a race to the bottom by any means. We each are very proud of the level of regulation that we have in our markets. Our people expect it. Our regulators expect it. And we want to make sure that we maintain that level of regulation if it's health or safety, or environmental protection."


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