The Bush administration says that it will begin negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, a free trade agreement between Chile, New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei.

The United States in March began talks with the so-called Pacific 4, or P4, countries on investment and financial services as a precursor to possible U.S. membership in the regional free trade agreement. The FTA between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore went into effect in 2006 and includes an accession clause that allows other nations to join the agreement. Many anticipate that the Trans-Pacific arrangement will be the foundation upon which an Asia-Pacific free trade region can be built. 

“This is an important step toward maintaining and expanding U.S. pork exports to the Asia-Pacific region,” said National Pork Producers Council President Bryan Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio. “We look forward to the resolution of the U.S. pork industry’s market access issues with New Zealand through these negotiations and to the eventual accession of new nations to the agreement.”

“The nations of the Asia-Pacific region are negotiating a patchwork of trade agreements at a staggering pace that threaten to undermine U.S. exports and U.S. jobs and to diminish U.S. influence in the region,” said Nick Giordano, NPPC’s vice president and international trade counsel. “This new trade initiative will result in the negotiation of a high-standard, comprehensive agreement that can serve as the basis for an Asia-Pacific free trade region.”

New and expanded market access through trade agreements has been the most important catalyst for increasing U.S. pork exports. Since the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1989, exports of U.S. pork products have grown to more than $2.6 billion from $394 million.

Increased pork exports resulting from trade agreements are made possible in part because of the effective working relationship between NPPC and the National Pork Board and their shared goal of increasing U.S. pork exports.

Source: NPPC