Bloomberg News

Pacific Trade Discussions Need to Be Ambitious, Vilsack Says

November 20, 2011

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that Tran-Pacific Partnership discussions need to be as ambitious and aggressive as possible in opening markets. Vietnam has an opportunity to exercise significant leadership in the negotiations, he said. Vilsack spoke in a briefing at the Hanoi University of Agriculture today.

On Trans-Pacific Partnership discussions:

“The challenge here is for all of us engaged in this dialogue to be as ambitious and as aggressive as possible in terms of our willingness to lower tariffs and supports so that we do have a free flow of goods and services, and have that flow done in a fair and reasonable way.”

On Vietnam’s role in TPP negotiations:

“There’s a real opportunity here for Vietnam to exercise significant leadership in those discussions by being ambitious and aggressive in its approach to opening up markets.”

On U.S. farm groups and TPP:

“I think the farm commodity groups that I have talked to are very supportive of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as multilateral and bilateral trading opportunities. I think that’s most recently displayed in the passage of three free trade agreements in Congress that were passed with the assistance of farm groups. I think farm groups generally in the United States see trade as a positive and are always encouraging greater opportunities and they see TPP as an opportunity.”

On Vietnam and WTO commitments:

“As we worked with Vietnam to get its accession into WTO it’s incumbent upon us to take a look at the openness of the U.S. market to Vietnam goods and we need to continue to work on that. It’s a bilateral relationship -- the Vietnamese have to look at ways in which U.S. products can compete effectively and fairly. The more we create the fairness and the balance in that relationship, the stronger that relationship becomes -- for both countries.”

On U.S.-Vietnam agriculture trade:

“It was not so long ago that Vietnam was the 50th leading trading partner we had in agriculture and it’s now 15th. It’s rapidly going up the list -- so as it rapidly goes up the list you’re obviously going to have issues that crop up, you’re going to bump up against another. It’s important to have dialog. We want a balanced relationship with Vietnam.”

--Editors: Patrick Harrington, Mark Williams

To contact the reporter on this story: Nick Heath in Hanoi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at

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