Speaking at the sixth annual Washington Ideas Forum last Thursday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman addressed questions about the Obama administration’s trade agenda, including working with Congress on “fast-track” trade promotion authority and the current state of negotiations on both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Froman refused to be drawn on whether trade talks with the European Union are worth pursuing without a controversial investor protection clause, but he indicated that the deal would not meet a “high standard” without it.
“It’s hard to imagine a high-standard agreement – this is intended to be an agreement that’s a model for the rest of the world – it’s hard to imagine a high-standard agreement that doesn’t have the high standard of investment protections as well,” Froman said.
At the event, Froman also lowered expectations for results on the TPP coming out of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum next month. “No, we do not expect to have a final agreement on TPP at APEC,” he said. “TPP leaders will be present, so it will be a good opportunity to have conversations with each other, on whatever outstanding issues are left … and to provide an impetus to getting it done.”
Regarding the sticking points remaining in the TTP talks, Froman highlighted “market access, which is sort of the heart of the trade agreement,” but noted that the U.S. and Canada have not yet started their discussions on the issue. “We’ve been making good progress with Japan and hope to engage with Canada soon,” Froman said.
Click here to view the video and read the transcript.