A coalition of agricultural organizations led by the National Pork Producers Council is likely to oppose a final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement if it includes Japan but that country doesn’t agree to comprehensive trade liberalization, including elimination of tariffs on virtually all U.S. agricultural products.
In a letter sent today to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the 17 groups said the unwillingness of Japanese negotiators to present a comprehensive offer on agricultural products is threatening to undermine the trade talks.
Japan is demanding special treatment for its agriculture sector, including exclusion from the agreement of certain “sensitive” products.
The TPP is a regional trade 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.
The agricultural organizations pointed out in their letter to Froman that, if Japan is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP countries inevitably will demand the right to do the same. Countenancing such an action, they said, also will affect future trade agreements, including the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership now being negotiated between the United States and the European Union.
If the United States can’t reach an agreement with Japan that includes comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector, it should conclude a TPP deal without the Asian nation, said the groups.
Japan is an important market for U.S. agriculture – the fourth largest – which shipped $13.5 billion of food and agricultural products to the island nation in 2012.