Trade Updates: Obama Pushes TPP In Asia; Wolverine, FDRA Hosts USTR

President Barack Obama in Vietnam
President Barack Obama in Vietnam
AP Images.

TPP Gets Big Focus in Vietnam

The Trans-Pacific Partnership took center stage this week during President Obama’s trip to Asia. His visit to Vietnam wrapped up Tuesday, and now he’s headed to Japan, but the central theme of the importance of TPP has been one repeated often. The TPP, according to the administration, will be a crucial tool to counteract the regional power China. Obama also made the case that the deal will help support growth for the Vietnamese economy.

“Vietnam will be less dependent on any one trading partner and enjoy broader ties with more partners, including the United States,” Obama said during an address on Tuesday. “And TPP will reinforce regional cooperation. It will help address economic inequality and will advance human rights, with higher wages and safer working conditions. For the first time here in Vietnam, the right to form independent labor unions and prohibitions against forced labor and child labor. And it has the strongest environmental protections and the strongest anti-corruption standards of any trade agreement in history. That’s the future TPP offers for all of us, because all of us — the United States, Vietnam and the other signatories — will have to abide by these rules that we have shaped together. That’s the future that is available to all of us. So we now have to get it done — for the sake of our economic prosperity and our national security.”

It will be interesting to see the shift in tone as Obama lands in Japan, where the auto industry and others have been more skeptical of the trade agreement. 

FDRA Looks Ahead

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America is looking ahead for other key trade issues facing the shoe business. FDRA president Matt Priest said the next key focus area for footwear is the Generalized System of Preferences, or GSP. The list of GSP gives duty-free preference to certain exported products produced in developing markets. Priest said that while TPP is the biggest focus this year, adding footwear to the GSP list is a huge opportunity for expanding and growing the industry. The FDRA sent a letter to Congress urging a plan of action on GSP as a part of ongoing trade talks. “We have been pushing for this so our members can have more sourcing options in Cambodia, Indonesia and India and a whole list of countries,” said Priest. “We still a lot of momentum right now with TPP, and we’re in an interesting state with the industry where things are diversified. This is kind of the next phase of the future of footwear policy discussion.”

Wolverine Hosts USTR

Wolverine World Wide and FDRA host the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Thursday in Michigan. Ambassador Robert Holleyman will tour a Wolverine factory and discuss trade policy.