Trade Representative Meets With Senate, Talks Massive Trade Deal

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Nearly half of global economic output is on the line between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations involved in the multi-lateral Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In late Janurary, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman met with the Senate Finance Committee. He emphasized in his opening speech that the best way to strengthen international trade policy would be to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), under which Congress allows the Executive Branch broker trade deals that Congress can then pass or reject, but not amend.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is on the Finance Committee, and supports TPA. In his weekly conference call, he says the prime interest of Iowa is to make sure there aren't any tariffs from Japan.

He says, "Now I didn't get any promise that there's going to be zero tariff. We did get from Ambassador Froman an indication that they were making progress. Now I don't know how you measure progress but they were making progress on pork. But that's about as far as we've gotten so far. And you'll never get a definitive answer until the document is fully negotiated."

Grassley also asked how TPP plans on dealing with currency manipulation among some of the member countries. Froman says there are ongoing conversations on that issue with other trading partners, but not in the TPP.