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US Diplomat Outlines Stakes For Texas In Trans-Pacific Trade

Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson addressed a meeting of the World Affairs Council of Houston on Monday.


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Roberta Jacobson
Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, addressing the World Affairs Council of Houston (to her right, Ronan O’Malley, head of WAC Houston’s Young Professionals Program)


Roberta Jacobson, the State Department’s lead voice on Western Hemisphere affairs, spoke before the World Affairs Council of Houston Monday. Most of the assistant secretary of state’s remarks dealt with the ongoing negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The U.S. already has some form of free trade agreement with most of the nations involved in the talks — including NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, as well as Chile and Peru. But the TPP would also lower trade barriers with Japan and Vietnam.

“Currently Texas companies, chemical exports, face 35 percent tariffs in some TPP markets,” said Jacobson. “Exports of minerals and fuels are subject to tariffs of up to 30 percent, and machinery product exports face tariffs of up to 70 percent in some cases.”

Turning to Cuba, Jacobson emphasized the Obama administration remains committed to pushing Cuba towards democratic reform, even as it takes steps to allow expanded travel and remittances to the Communist nation.

“We expect new regulations to be implemented by the Departments of the Treasury and the Commerce in the next couple of weeks,” Jacobson said, “and until those regulations are implemented, let me be clear, nothing has actually changed yet. And, let me also be clear, until Congress chooses to act, the embargo is still in place.”

Jacobson will travel to Cuba later this month to begin talks on reestablishing diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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