Ag groups say, "Go ahead without Japan"

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The National Pork Producers Council joined the International Dairy Foods Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the USA Rice Federation and the U.S. Wheat Association in calling on the Obama administration to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations without Japan unless that nation agrees to provide significant market access for the United States. For U.S. pork that means elimination of Japan’s gate price system and all tariffs. 

The TPP is a regional negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP.

According to reports from the recent TPP trade ministerial meeting in Singapore, Japanese Minister of the Economy Akira Amari said Japan will not abolish tariffs in the agricultural sectors it considers “sacred” – dairy, sugar, rice, beef, pork, wheat and barley.

“The U.S. pork industry is very disappointed that Japan continues to refuse to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade,” said NPPC President Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, who pointed out that the U.S. meat sector strongly supported Japan’s entry into the TPP talks, as did most of American agriculture. “A country can’t shield its primary agricultural products from competition and still claim to be committed to a high-standard agreement that liberalizes essentially all goods.”

Japan is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector, including exempting pork and other “sensitive” products from tariff elimination. The United States never has agreed to let a trading partner exempt as many tariff lines as Japan is requesting – 586. In fact, in the 17 free trade agreements the United States has concluded since 2000, only 233 tariff lines combined have been exempted from having tariff elimination.

“Allowing Japan to exempt products from going to a zero tariff and preserving the gate price on pork sets a horrible precedent,” Hill said. “Other TPP countries may demand similar treatment, which could jeopardize the entire agreement, and that precedent would make it much harder to obtain a good outcome for pork and other agricultural products in future trade deals.



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