WASHINGTON — The U.S. Trade Representative’s office, continuing its campaign for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, released a report Tuesday showing how a pact with 11 Asia-Pacific countries would lower tariffs on a wide range of products, including apparel, textiles and footwear.
The Obama administration is making a full-court press for TPP, which is being negotiated between the U.S., Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, Peru, Brunei, New Zealand, Chile and Canada, as the trade agenda heats up on Capitol Hill.
The Senate passed a Trade Promotion Authority bill 11 days ago that sets negotiating objectives for trade negotiations, limits Congress to an up or down vote and is seen as a linchpin for completing the TPP trade talks. A contentious battle is expected in the House this month.
Against that backdrop, USTR is promoting the benefits of TPP and the new report states that it will help level the playing field by lowering tariffs on U.S.-made exports to the TPP countries.
“TPP will support jobs here at home by tearing down barriers to Made-in-America exports abroad,” said USTR Michael Froman. “We already have an open economy, but not all countries do. TPP will help level the playing field so that our products and services aren’t frozen out of the fastest growing markets in the world.”
According to the report, the U.S. ships some $2 billion in goods to TPP countries every day. In 2014, the U.S. exported more than $638 billion in manufactured products to TPP countries.
The U.S. has an average applied tariff of 1.4 percent on all imports, and nearly 70 percent of those enter the U.S. duty-free. Tariff barriers to U.S. exports to TPP countries can reach as high as 700 percent on certain agricultural exports, which hurt the ability of U.S. companies to export, according to the report.
“The average tariff is over twice as high as ours,” the report said. “In Vietnam and Malaysia, the average tariff is over three times higher than ours.”
Tariffs on textiles and apparel exports to TPP markets can reach as high as 100 percent, the report said. The U.S. exported $21.9 billion in textiles and apparel to the world in 2014, $10.5 billion of which was shipped to TPP countries.
Footwear exports to TPP countries also face high quotas and tariffs, the report said.
“TPP would open new markets for U.S. footwear exports,” it said.
The U.S. exported $824 million in footwear to the world in 2014 and the TPP countries accounted for $370 million of the total amount of exports.