Ryan: Trade deals good for Wis., laments Obama administration's 'ambivalence'
Fresh off a trip to Asia as part of a nine-person congressional delegation, House Budget Chair Paul Ryan says tentative deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership are crucial to Wisconsin’s economy.
Representing about 40 percent of global GDP, the TPP “could be a huge win for us, especially for Wisconsin,” Ryan told a WisPolitics.com breakfast on Thursday. "There are so many opportunities for us [like] Wisconsin soybeans in Asia. … It would do a whole lot of good for our farmers and our ag business.”
The late April trip was led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
During the trip, Ryan met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, Finance Minister Tarō Asō, and Japan’s lead TPP negotiator, Akira Amari. He also met with Kikkoman CEO and Chairman Yuzaburo Mogi. The soy sauce maker has a plant in Walworth, part of Ryan's district.
Thursday morning after the breakfast, Ryan met with members of the Diet, Japan’s legislative body, as they participated in an annual visit to Washington.
Negotiations for TPP started in 2010. The 12 countries involved are: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam.
“TPP is tough for Japan,” Ryan said. “Now they have to do real reforms. They have to deal with their trade protectionist issues.
“We have to have ag and autos as part of this thing,” he continued. “In Wisconsin, that’s who we are.”
But he accused the Obama administration of not pushing the trade agenda, despite the president's trip to Asia.
He said the administration is slow walking pending trade deals such as TPP and that it’s “ambivalent” on international trade pacts because of domestic politics.
“This administration is not a trade administration,” Ryan said, echoing talking points from the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
“When will President Obama negotiate a trade agreement to completion?” read the document titled: “Two simple trade questions for USTR Froman."
U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.
“The global economy is occurring; it’s happening; and the question is whether we shape it or it shapes us," said Ryan, R-Janesville. "That is why this trade agenda matters."
He said “other countries are cutting better bilateral deals,” than the U.S. and that if Obama doesn’t focus more on trade, other “countries will take over leadership of the global economy and it won’t be a free and fair and transparent system and prosperity and growth with suffer as a result.”