The 12th round of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations began this week in Dallas, with a number of issues that remain unresolved, not the least of which is market access for American manufactured goods.   The broad consensus in the business community is that the final TPP deal should reflect the strongest elements of existing free trade agreements and should become the model for future market-liberalizing deals.

In addition to the U.S., there are eight other nations formally engaged in the current TPP talks: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.   U.S. manufacturers already enjoy duty free access to markets in Australia, Chile, Peru, and Singapore, which leaves negotiators vying for strong market access provisions with Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei, whose market is small compared with the others. 

Vietnam’s market, which comprises 86 million consumers – or three times the size of Malaysia’s – has been a focal point for many in the business community who remain concerned about Vietnam’s willingness to adhere to the same high standards as the other negotiating nations. 

The NAM’s goal for all TPP participants, including Vietnam, is to eliminate at least 90 percent of its tariffs on manufactured goods upon implementation of the TPP, and this week, the NAM sent a letter to Ambassador Ron Kirk to emphasize the importance of that position. 

Jessica Lemos is  director of international trade policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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