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WASHINGTON -- The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) yesterday submitted testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, urging the successful passage of the comprehensive U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA).
"With one of the most vibrant economies in Latin America, trade with Peru offers U.S. companies new possibilities for expanding their businesses both here -- through increased access to important raw materials -- and abroad -- through increased exports of packaged foods, beverages, and consumer products," noted GMA senior director of international trade Sarah Thorn in a statement. "However, while we are pleased to see that all commodities have been included in the PTPA, we are disappointed that sugar was again highly protected in the final agreement."
Under the terms of the agreement, over two-thirds of food and agricultural products and 80 percent of consumer products will get immediate duty-free treatment. Right now, food, beverage, and consumer products face an average import tariff of 12 percent to 25 percent. Also, certain processed food products, including cheese, are subject to an additional variable levy or price band as well as the 25 percent tariff. Allowable imports of sugar, however, will barely exceed the minimum for a boatload.
In regard to intellectual property rights, GMA praised the Bush Administration for applying the principle of "first-in-time, first-in-right" to all products, even those that may contain a geographical indicator. GMA is hopeful that this approach will be adopted in other regional and global agreements so as to counter European laws that would give priority to geographical indicators over trademarks, a policy that the association believes could cancel protections for many branded products.
GMA represents the world's leading branded food, beverage, and consumer products companies. The association's member companies employ over 2.5 million workers in all 50 states and account for more than $680 billion in sales.