Almost twenty U.S. manufacturing groups last week urged the Obama administration to press for the elimination of all tariffs as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
Spearheaded by the National Association of Manufacturers, the 17 groups called on U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to push for the eradication of tariffs on a wide range of industrial goods particularly in Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam – countries long focused on export led growth, but regarded as being fiercely protective of their domestic producers.
“The immediate elimination of manufacturing tariffs in TPP partner countries is a vital prerequisite to achieve a TPP that will link America’s highly productive manufacturers to new consumers around the world,” the groups wrote.
“Especially at this critical juncture in the negotiations, manufacturers strongly urge you and your negotiating team to achieve the strongest possible market-opening outcome that will substantially boost manufacturers’ competitiveness and ability to expand their exports throughout the Asia-Pacific region to create and maintain jobs here at home.”
Focus of the lobbying effort is dropping the tariffs for U.S. manufactured exports such as automobiles and motor vehicle parts; chemicals; agricultural goods; construction, electrical and mining equipment and machinery; steel, paper and wood products; and distilled spirits. The groups stipulated that they did not want to see any “sector or product exclusions or carve outs” in the proposed Asia-Pacific trade deal.
The initiative drew sharp criticism from the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), a non-profit organization opposed to free trade that claims to “represent the interests of 2.7 million households through our agriculture, manufacturing and labor supporters.”
“Some CPA members are also members of NAM, and have tried to convince NAM to rethink its trade policy direction in light of the harm caused to de-industrialize the U.S. economy,” it declared. “... NAM has not done so. The multinationals don’t have allegiance to the U.S. and many simply think ‘we must increase exports’ and don’t think further. It’s too bad that they have not realized that it is net trade and persistent imbalances that matter.”