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MODESTO — President Trump signed an executive order Monday to end U.S. participation in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal including 12 countries that border the Pacific Ocean.
The goal of the TPP was to gradually eliminate 18,000 tariffs on goods traded among the countries and to promote cooperation on employment practices.
Trade experts on Monday said withdrawal from the talks could hurt exports for California’s farm products.
The Central Valley is heavily dependent on almonds as an economic driver. The crop is the state’s top agricultural export with a value of $4.5 billion. The industry is responsible for about 97,000 jobs in the Valley.
“We are confident that the president understands the importance of trade to our industry and that the TPP contained many positives for California almonds,” said Almond Alliance of California President Kelly Covello in a statement released late Monday afternoon. “We urge the new administration to quickly re-engage TPP nations to negotiate a deal that remains fair and equitable for California’s number one crop.”
According to the American Farm Bureau, California fruit and nut export values would have gone up $562 million because of reduced or eliminated tariffs under TPP.
The concern is that other countries will move forward with trade agreements whether or not the United States participates.
“U.S. failure to enact TPP will not see our trade situation stay the same, but will lead to declining net exports and market share in important markets,” the American Farm Bureau said on its website.
If approved by Congress, TPP would have cut tariffs for American imports and exports with the 12 countries involved. In exchange, the United States had negotiated labor, environmental and intellectual property protections that major businesses wanted.
Critics, however, opposed the deal in part because it didn’t directly address the issue of currency manipulation. Labor groups opposed TPP, blaming open trade policies for shifting manufacturing jobs overseas.