As Trans Pacific Partnership deal announced GOP candidate for ag commish warns of repercussions

10/05/2015 04:59 PM

On Monday the United States and 11 other nations announced the largest regional trade deal in history which would connect 40 percent of the world’s economy, from Canada to Japan and Australia.

However, the Trans-Pacific Partnership faces a rigorous road of approval or disapproval in Congress, and concerns back in Kentucky.

The full text of the TPP will not be available for as long as a month, according to the New York Times but as details of the deal emerge groups on all sides of the agreement are reacting to the pieces that impact their groups.

Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner Ryan Quarles has been warning of the potential downside to Kentucky tobacco farmers since 2011, and on Monday he said the announcement of a final deal was one of disappointment, but not surprise.

“Today, I am beyond disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that President Obama has done just that in the Trans Pacific Partnership deal, ignore the voices of Kentucky farmers and legislators,” Quarles said in a statement sent to Pure Politics. “Over 80 percent of Kentucky tobacco is grown for export, and this attack on Kentucky farmers by the Obama Administration poses a serious threat to thousands of family farmers.”

According to the Hill, the trade deal announced on Monday, contains a tobacco carve out which would leave tobacco companies unprotected in the deal, however details of the carve out are still fuzzy and the full 30 chapter text will not be available for as long as a month.

However, the White House did signal a carve out has taken place in a press briefing held Monday.

“Signing a bad deal just so it could pass through Congress was never going to be part of our equation,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said when asked about opposition from tobacco state lawmakers — according to The Hill.

Tobacco represents $300 million in Kentucky farm receipts, and Quarles said the commodity should be left alone in the deal.

“The carve out, the first of its kind in a free trade agreement, sets a dangerous precedent that should make not just farmers, but any other industry who seeks to protect trademark and intellectual property sit up and take notice,” Quarles said. “The Obama Administration has decided to pick winners and losers in the TPP. Just as with our coal industry, Kentucky once again is not a priority in Obama’s White House.”

Jean Marie Lawson Spann, Quarles’ Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 election, told Pure Politics in early August that talk of the Trans Pacific Partnership carve out was a GOP scare tactic and fundraising tool.

The multi-national trade deal which months ago looked like a big win for the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans after eight years of talks on the subject could face a major hurdle when confronted by Kentucky U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Signaling potential opposition, McConnell said “serious concerns have been raised on a number of key issues.”

“This deal demands intense scrutiny by Congress and the legislation we passed earlier this year provides us the opportunity to give this agreement that scrutiny,” McConnell said in a statement. “In the months ahead, the Senate will review this agreement to determine if it meets the high standards Congress and the American people have demanded.”

McConnell has consistently warned on the potential for carve-outs over tobacco in the trade deal, sending three letters and sitting down with the U.S. trade representative negotiating the deal.

With the passage of Trade Promotion Authority legislation earlier this year, once a negotiated deal is offered to Congress it can only receive an up-or-down vote.

In August, McConnell said he has concerns over the details of the details of the agreement, but at the time he said he would wait to see “what the deal looks like” when asked by Pure Politics if a carve-out meant he would block the trade deal.

“What I would point out — not many Democrats are going to vote for it, so they really need the Republicans on-board to pass it,” McConnell said at the time.


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