Trade deal pitched as boon to TN booze producers

Excerpt from a Politico note on U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman’s visit to Nashville Friday to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership, written off by many as “all but dead after a brutal election campaign,” as a boon to Tennessee whiskey and music businesses:

Tennessee whiskey and bourbon account for over half of American spirits exports to TPP countries, which totaled over $557 million last year, according to USTR. The TPP agreement would eliminate spirits tariffs that are now as high as 45 percent. New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam also would recognize Tennessee whiskey and bourbon as distinctive U.S. products, giving them special protection in those markets.

Nashville is home to Rep. Jim Cooper, one of 28 House Democrats who voted last year for trade promotion authority to help Froman finish the TPP talks. In fact, seven of Tennessee’s nine House members voted for TPA, and so did both of its senators, Republicans Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander. The two Tennessee congressmen who voted against the fast track trade bill were Reps. Steve Cohen, a Democrat, and John Duncan, a Republican.

And here’s the start of an AP story on Froman’s visit:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — United States Trade Representative Michael Froman walked up to the bar in the tasting room of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery on Friday to tout the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement for Tennessee whiskey makers, auto producers and the country music industry.

Froman said President Barack Obama’s administration is pushing for Congress to approve the trade deal before the new president is inaugurated in January. The trade deal has become a focus of the presidential campaign, with both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump criticizing the agreement.

The Obama administration wants Congress to approve the deal before the new president takes over, Froman said.

“Given the uncertainty ahead, I think it’s very dangerous to the United States to cede our leadership role in this region to China, let China write the rules of the road and let China have access to these markets at our expense,” he said.

…The trade deal would also eliminate tariffs of up to 70 percent for U.S.-made vehicles, 50 percent on engines and 40 percent on poultry, Froman said. It would also establish intellectual property standards that would protect songwriters and musicians.

The full AP story is HERE.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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