Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Gary Peters (D-MI) announced today that they are leading a bipartisan letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman about a possible special docking provision that could allow for the future addition of countries like China to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“The Chinese government has consistently intervened in currency markets to manipulate the value of their currency against the U.S. dollar,” the senators wrote in the letter. “We have serious concerns about an agreement which would welcome countries with a history of currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, and failure to abide by existing global trade norms without prior Congressional approval and oversight.”
U.S. negotiators have indicated that a final TPP agreement could include a special docking provision to allow for the inclusion of new member countries in future years, including Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and China.
In 2014, five Chinese military officers were charged with stealing intellectual property from American companies. The U.S. Justice Department’s indictment focused on the steel and solar industries where Chinese exports have been driving concerns from American companies about unfair trade practices.
The United States has also brought 16 World Trade Organization dispute settlement cases against China that include charges on export subsidies, restrictions on trading and distribution rights and intellectual property rights.
The full text of the letter is available below:
Dear Ambassador Froman:
We have closely followed your efforts negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). These negotiations have focused on the trade behavior and commitments of the 12 members of the current discussion. However, you and other members of the Executive Branch have indicated that the TPP will be an agreement that anticipates the addition of new members in future years. Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and China have all been mentioned as potential future members of the TPP.
President Obama and other administration officials have commented that they would welcome interest from China in joining TPP. You have testified before the Senate Finance Committee and indicated that TPP will include a special docking provision to accommodate future new TPP members, such as China.
Last year, five Chinese military officers were charged with stealing intellectual property from U.S. companies. The United States has brought 16 World Trade Organization dispute settlement cases against China on issues ranging from Intellectual Property Rights, export subsidies, discriminatory industrial practices, and restrictions on trading and distribution rights. The Chinese government has consistently intervened in currency markets to manipulate the value of their currency against the U.S. dollar.
We have serious concerns about an agreement which would welcome countries with a history of currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, and failure to abide by existing global trade norms without prior Congressional approval and oversight.
As the TPP agreement takes form, it would be helpful to Members of Congress to understand fully what the process will be for adding countries like China to the TPP agreement.
We would welcome your answers to the following questions:
- Will the final TPP agreement have a docking provision to facilitate the admission of new members into TPP?
- Can you explain how the docking process would work for potential new TPP members who seek to join the agreement after it is in force?
- Is China, or any other Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation nation, excluded from potential future membership in TPP?
- Will the addition of new members to TPP be subject to Congressional oversight or approval?
- Will new member nations joining TPP require the Executive Branch to seek new Trade Promotion Authority from the Congress?
- If not, in the event that this administration, or a future President, decides to add China to TPP, will Congress be limited to a simple up-or-down vote, without amendment, on the decision to have a free trade agreement with China?
All members of Congress should fully understand the implications for the United States economy of the TPP before any vote on the agreement. We would welcome your answers to the above questions as soon as possible to permit us to review them prior to Congressional consideration of Trade Promotion Authority.