Leaders of the member states of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) are, from left, Naoto Kan (Japan), Nguyễn Minh Triết (Vietnam), Julia Gillard (Australia), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore), Barack Obama (United States), John Key (New Zealand), Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei), Alan García (Peru), and Muhyiddin Yassin (Malaysia).

Sectors of the U.S. agri­cul­tural indus­try are express­ing a mea­sure of dis­ap­point­ment in the terms of the recently passed Tans-Pacific Trade agree­ment (TPP).

Kimberly Houlding, pres­i­dent of the American Olive Oil Producers Association (AOOPA) tes­ti­fied at a hear­ing last week that the TPP “should have been the begin­ning of a forum of New World olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries,” and that it should have been the jump­ing-off point for address­ing the issues faced by the indus­try in the U.S., Australia, Chile, Mexico, and New Zealand.

We are con­cerned and dis­ap­pointed that this agree­ment may be miss­ing a major oppor­tu­nity to pro­mote trans­parency and effec­tive qual­ity stan­dards within the TPP coun­tries.- Kimberly Houlding, American Olive Oil Producers Association

“Despite U.S. indus­try efforts,” she said, “the agree­men­t’s ‘tech­ni­cal bar­ri­ers to trade’ chap­ter does not include olive oil in the annex direct­ing coun­tries to form sec­tor-spe­cific groups to address stan­dards, label­ing and pack­ag­ing for wine and spir­its, cos­met­ics and other prod­ucts.”

Houlding cited in tes­ti­mony before the United States International Trade Commission the recent ’60 Minutes’ seg­ment which high­lighted the health haz­ards of adul­ter­ated olive oil before an esti­mated 12 mil­lion American view­ers of the pro­gram. “That is a fright­en­ing thought given one expert in this story who esti­mated that 75 to 80 per­cent of the extra vir­gin olive oil exported from Italy to U.S. super­mar­ket shelves is fraud­u­lent,” said Houlding, refer­ring to ‘Extra Virginity’ author, Tom Mueller, who was inter­viewed for the seg­ment.

Victoria Guida reported in Politico on January 15 that Houlding asserted the TPP offered the oppor­tu­nity to form a U.S.-based group that would pro­vide coun­ter­bal­ance to the International Olive Council that rep­re­sents Europe’s olive oil trade.

It is still pos­si­ble that a pro­vi­sion might be added to pro­vide for the estab­lish­ment of ad hoc work­ing groups whose pur­pose would be to address stan­dards and reg­u­la­tory issues, which con­tinue to be an over­all con­cern for the olive oil indus­try as a whole. According to USTR spokesman Matt McAlvanah, “TPP’s [Technical Barriers to Trade] chap­ter pro­vides the oppor­tu­nity to work on addi­tional sec­tor spe­cific ini­tia­tives, and we look for­ward to fur­ther dis­cus­sions with the indus­try on this topic.”


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