Agriculture Groups Urge TPP Deal Without Japan
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 28, 2014 – The National Pork Producers Council today 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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NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 67,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.
Statement on TPP Negotiations
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minister Amari’s statement in Singapore that none of Japan’s sensitive agricultural items will be fully liberalized may signal the end of hopes for the Trans-Pacific Partnership to become a truly comprehensive and forward-looking 21st century agreement. A country cannot shield its primary agricultural products from competition and still claim to be committed to a high-standard agreement liberalizing essentially all goods.
When Japan joined the TPP negotiations, it agreed to “to pursue an agreement that is comprehensive and ambitious in all areas, eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment,” as stated in the earlier (November 12, 2011) TPP Trade Ministers’ Report to Leaders. Yet according to several reports from the TPP Ministerial meeting just completed in Singapore, Japanese Minister of the Economy Akira Amari has now flatly told the other negotiating countries that Japan will not abolish tariffs in the five agricultural sectors it considers “sacred.” Those five sectors include seven basic agricultural products, covering most of agricultural production: dairy, sugar, rice, beef, pork, wheat and barley. They also include many downstream products made from those seven items, such as flour and flour mixes made from wheat and rice.
The broad exemption that Japan is demanding will encourage other partner countries to withhold their sensitive sectors as well. The result would fall far short of a truly comprehensive agreement that would set a new standard for future trade agreements. In fact the TPP envisioned by Japan, if it stands, would be the least comprehensive agreement the U.S. has negotiated since the 21st century began.
U.S. negotiators still have a chance to push Japan to provide meaningful agricultural market access in the agreement. Failing that, the alternative is suspending negotiations with Japan for now and concluding a truly comprehensive agreement with those TPP partners that are willing to meet the originally contemplated level of ambition. It is a big step but one that will be justified if Japan continues to refuse to open its agricultural sector to meaningful competition.