WASHINGTON – The U.S. government released a report Tuesday drawing attention to the heavy tariffs imposed on American exports in areas that the Trans-Pacific Partnership might free up.
The move was seen as a bid to win over domestic critics of the mooted trade pact.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative highlighted some of the hardships currently faced by American exporters, including the 778 percent tariff Japan levies on U.S.-origin rice.
“We have an average applied tariff of just 1.4 percent on foreign goods and today nearly 70 percent of all imports entering the United States don’t face any tariffs,” the report said, presented in a glossy five-page brochure.
“In Vietnam and Malaysia, the average tariff is over three times higher than ours,” the USTR report said.
Japan is the biggest economy among the 11 partners the United States is seeking to seal the agreement with. The eight other TPP countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore. The 12 nations together account for 40 percent of the global economy.
American-manufactured goods face tariffs of up to 100 percent in TPP markets, while some American agricultural exports face tariffs of over 700 percent, the report said.
The USTR unveiled the report as leaders of the House of Representatives struggle to decide when to start full deliberations on a bill seen as crucial to concluding the TPP early amid strong resistance even by members of President Barack Obama’s Democrats.
The Senate passed the bill last month to grant Obama authority to sign trade deals including the TPP with only a yes-or-no vote in the legislature without amendments.
U.S. reports say the House leadership could begin debate on the bill for so-called Trade Promotion Authority in early June.
Opponents fear the TPP could have a negative impact on the domestic economy and result in job losses.