Utah Senator Orrin Hatch was in Salt Lake City Friday to check in on a major foreign trade deal being negotiated here. Consumer advocates and some members of Congress have criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but Senator Hatch remains supportive.
As the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Orrin Hatch says he works closely with the US Trade Office, and encouraged his contacts there to host the latest round of Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in Salt Lake City. Hatch believes Utah and the country will benefit from a trade partnership with 11 Pacific Rim countries.
“These economies from throughout the Pacific region represent future consumers of American and Utah products,” Hatch says. “Our nation wins by tearing down these trade barriers. In fact, international trade supports more than 350,000 jobs here in Utah.”
Utah’s major exporters are also behind the agreement.
“This is the future, where the country and world is going, it is access to these markets,” says Steve Johnson, Chief Financial Officer for PMI, a meat, fish, and poultry products company - and one of the top ten exporters in the state. "We find with the Asian countries, if they consume the same amount of food products - especially meat – that we consume in this country, there’s barely enough meat in the world to service their needs. There is a tremendous opportunity for export to these countries. We hope that this kind of an agreement will allow more of this export to occur.”
Activist groups have been protesting the talks in Salt Lake City for their secrecy and because they believe the agreement would give unprecedented power to corporations, while curbing environmental and consumer protections. 174 members of Congress – both Democrats and Republicans - have complained about what they call “lack of congressional consultation” in the process. The text of the agreement will not be released until trade representatives conclude their negotiations. Then it will be submitted to Congress for approval.