The offices of U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre and U.S. Congressman Geoff Davis hosted a meeting today to urge Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agricultural Trade Negotiator for the U.S. Government, to hold off on introducing language to the Trans-Pacific Trade (TPP) Agreement that creates an exclusion for tobacco.
"Tobacco should be treated fairly--just like other crops. And there should not be any so-called 'safe harbor' provision that denies fair treatment of tobacco. We need to do all that we can to ensure that businesses, manufacturers, and agricultural producers in North Carolina are able to export their products to create jobs here in the state," said McIntyre about the TPP. "It is important that Ambassador Siddiqui hears the interests of key industries in North Carolina and throughout the country that are sincerely concerned about the damaging precedent that an industry specific exclusion could create. I will continue to advocate policies that benefit North Carolinians to him and others in the Administration."
Congressional staff members from several offices, and staff from the Committees on Agriculture and Ways and Means were in attendance at the meeting, which was held in the Ways and Means Committee Library in the Longworth House Office Building.
The USTR is widely suspected to be drafting specific language for the treatment of tobacco in the TPP, which is a trade agreement being negotiated between nine countries -- Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The TPP is one of the largest trade deals ever to be negotiated by the United States and, if enacted, would remove restrictions to trade between participating countries.
Earlier this month Congressman McIntyre met with Ambassador Marantis who is currently leading negotiations on behalf of the United States between the leaders of the nine TPP countries. In meeting with Ambassador Marantis, Congressman McIntyre made clear the harm of a potential tobacco carve out in the TPP. Congressman McIntyre has been in regular communications with the USTR on the treatment of tobacco in the TPP and will continue to push United Trade Representative Kirk to draft a trade agreement that does not unduly harm North Carolina agriculture.