TPP and TTIP Frictions Continue: Two of the largest multilateral trade agreements in history, the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are still being negotiated. American agricultural interests are concerned about Japan’s protectionist stance and reportedly may oppose the TPP unless the playing field levels. In Europe, chief TTIP negotiator Garcia Bercero emphasized in December, "TTIP is not and will not be a deregulation agenda." Neither side, he says, will lower their standards or limit their autonomy, although European negotiators plan to begin working with their American counterparts by March 2014 on wording of provisions to make it easier to comply with each other’s rules, and when drafting new rules.
Keystone XL Pipeline Likely: TransCanada CEO Russ Girling says he is “100 percent” confident the Keystone XL pipeline will be approved. The final environmental review is expected to be released by the U.S. State Department within the next few weeks.
GMOs Labeling to be debated in Congress: Both houses of Congress have pending genetically-modified organisms (GMO) labeling legislations, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D.- Calif.) is urging President Obama to issue an Executive Order requiring foods containing genetically-modified ingredients to require them to be labeled as such. Food producers are considering voluntary legislation.
WTO Tackles Doha: Fresh from Bali and its first big win in years, the WTO is eager to gain General Council adoption by July 31, 2014 and to conclude the Doha Round, which has been stalled since 2006. Director General Roberto Azevêdo plans to deliver a work program for Doha by December 2014.
Trade Restrictions Grow: During the past six months, the WTO has identified 116 measure enacted by G-20 nations that restrict, or have the potential to restrict trade. The measures are detailed in the Report on G-20 Trade Measures, released December 18.
NSA Surveillance Keeps on Giving: Given the trade snafus already emanating from Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent of governmental spying, news that he has released only five percent of the documents is likely to foul international trade for years to come. Watch trade reports noting the willingness to deal with American companies.