Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., led a coalition of House members
in urging the Obama administration to carefully consider the impact of
its proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement on
U.S. fisheries and fishing communities.
The agreement is
widely expected to reduce or eliminate duties on imported fish products
from countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan.
other things, this could significantly cut funding for the
Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Act grant program, a U.S. research and
development program that benefits American fisheries. Since its
passage nearly 70 years ago, the S-K Act has authorized allocation of
30 percent of duties on imported fish products toward
competitively-awarded projects that improve U.S. fish stocks, reduce
bycatch, and help fishing communities in every coastal region of
In a letter signed by eight of his colleagues,
Congressman Jones implored United States Trade Representative Michael
Froman to keep the potential negative impact on S-K revenue in mind as
TPP negotiations continue.
Furthermore, the signers of
the letter requested that a detailed estimate of the effect of the TPP
on S-K revenue be provided to them before the final TPP agreement
language is sent to Congress.
“U.S. fishermen just want a level
playing field, but this TPP agreement threatens to tilt the field even
more toward foreign fish imports that are often heavily subsidized and
contaminated,” said Congressman Jones.
“Fishing is a
vital component of the economy in Eastern North Carolina and the
coastal United States, with the industry providing tens of thousands of
domestic jobs. Those jobs are supported by the
Saltonstall-Kennedy program, and the administration needs to keep these
facts in mind and act accordingly when it comes to the TPP
negotiations,” he added.
The administration has
been negotiating the TPP free trade agreement with Australia, Brunei,
Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore,
and Vietnam for more than three years and is hoping to finalize the
deal this year.