Work Continues on to Prevent the Exclusion of Tobacco from the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is on the forefront of what the Office of the United States Trade Representative wants to accomplish. Peter Thornton with the International Marketing Group of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture explains one aspect of this agreement could potentially exclude tobacco, to the detriment of NC producers:
 

“Tobacco is export dependant, these are export agreements, they’re not supposed to go into anything beyond the concept of trade, but there are other forces at play that are trying to exclude tobacco from the trade agreement. And what the main worry about it is, is not this immediate trade agreement but the precedent it would set for future trade agreements.”
 

Thornton explains that anti-tobacco lobbying groups are behind the movement of excluding tobacco from the agreement, with the flawed theory that opening more liquor stores creates more alcohol consumption:
 

“You’ve got, obviously an anti-tobacco lobbying group, that seems to think that if we have free-trade tobacco it would force an increase in smoking in these other countries, when in fact all it would do is take our market share and hand it to Brazil.”
There’s several powerful forces at play, according to Thornton:
 

“The North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Commissioner Troxler in specific has written several letters to the USTR, has contacted USTR Ambassador Kirk, has also worked with the North American State Departments of Agriculture and had them produce a letter as a joint communiqué opposed to the idea, and encouraged USTR not to do this. Also, several congressional delegates have signed on to letters informing USTR that this is a very bad idea. The political momentum behind this is significant to try to prevent this from happening.”
 

Whether tobacco or another product, Thornton explains that if it’s tobacco today, it could be something else tomorrow:
 

“Yes, absolutely. And usually what happens when you get into trade agreements and trade disputes, agriculture is what takes the brunt.”
In American tobacco production, two out of three rows of tobacco goes into the export market, and North Carolina leads the country in tobacco production.
 


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