NO NEW WORLD ORDER FOR OLIVE OIL

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The American olive oil industry said Thursday that U.S. trade officials missed an opportunity when negotiating the Asia-Pacific deal. “TPP not only could provide an avenue to address the issues among member countries, it should have been the beginning of a forum of New World olive oil producing countries,” Kimberly Houlding, president of the American Olive Oil Producers Association, testified at the ITC hearing.

Despite U.S. industry efforts, the agreement’s “technical barriers to trade” chapter does not include olive oil in the annex directing countries to form sector-specific groups to address standards, labeling and packaging for wine and spirits, cosmetics and other products, she said.

A group could be formed through the TPP to balance European influence, which is represented by the International Olive Council, she said. TPP members that produce olive oil include the U.S., Australia, Chile, Mexico and New Zealand. Houlding said the issue could still be remedied by a technical barriers chapter provision that allows the establishment of ad hoc working groups to address standards and regulatory issues.

In response, USTR spokesman Matt McAlvanah said “TPP’s TBT chapter provides the opportunity to work on additional sector specific initiatives, and we look forward to further discussions with the industry on this topic.”

IBM LOVES TPP: A top IBM official gave a ringing endorsement of the TPP agreement during the second day of the ITC hearing Thursday. “Our company strongly supports the agreement and will forcefully advocate for its ratification in the United States and every other TPP country,” Chris Padilla, the company’s vice president for government and regulatory affairs, told the panel.

Padilla, a former U.S. trade official, praised provisions that would bar TPP countries from requiring companies to store data locally in order to do business, although financial services firms are excluded from that protection.

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