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A month to the day after negotiations concluded for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Obama Administration has released the full text of the agreement — 30 chapters, spanning topics like labor and environmental standards and intellectual property protections.
The administration also notified Congress of the president’s intention to enter into the agreement, which he is required to do 90 days before he signs the agreement. It then goes to Congress for its approval.
The text released Thursday also includes details on tariffs on a slew of incredibly specific goods.
For example, the U.S. has a 4.5 percent tariff on the value of mules and hinnies, not imported for immediate slaughter. That will be eliminated for all TPP countries if the agreement goes into effect.
Other tariffs lines cover rodenticides containing an inorganic substance, and film in rolls —without sprocket holes — of a width exceeding 610 millimeters and of a length not exceeding 200 meters.
“This is the nature of trade,” said Eswar Prasad, a trade policy professor at Cornell University. “Rather than there being broad categories of tariffs, they do tend to be very narrowly focused.”
“Every tariff line tells a story,” said Andy Shoyer, a partner at the law firm Sidley Austin in Washington, D.C. “When you look at a tariff schedule, what you’re looking for are these wrinkles, these exceptions.”
For example, the U.S. tariff on some trucks imported from Japan won’t budge at all for nearly 30 years. Shoyer said that shows it was an extremely sensitive topic for negotiators. In fact, it was one of the last issues to be resolved after years of negotiations.
“That tariff was imposed in 1963 in retaliation against the European community,” said Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It was designed to block sales of Volkswagen vans into the United States. It was an anti-hippy tax.”
Such exceptions aside, Schott said tariffs in countries like Japan and the U.S. are relatively low, especially compared with countries like Vietnam.
Additionally, the terms of the TPP stretch far beyond tariffs.
“For the United States, the bigger gain would be in services,” said Schott, referring to provisions that affect industries such as insurance, financial services and express air deliveries.
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