Japanese trade officials were in Washington, D.C., recently to meet with United States negotiators to discuss the ongoing market access issues that are critical to completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation free trade agreement (FTA) of Pacific Rim countries which include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Japan's Deputy Chief Negotiator Hiroshi Oe and Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler met in an attempt to sort through the remaining thorny issues before President Obama’s visit to Japan in April, where completing the TPP will be among the main topics of discussion.

 Access for “sensitive” agricultural products, including U.S. pork, and automobiles into Japan are among the main sticking points that have yet to be resolved.

 

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 Japan is the fourth largest market for U.S. agriculture. The U.S. shipped $12.1 billion of food and agricultural products to the island nation in 2013.

Japan’s current market access offer on agriculture would exempt almost 600 tariff lines from tariff exemption.

This level of exemption is almost three times the number of tariff lines exempted from tariff elimination in all 17 U.S. FTAs this century.

According to groups like the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), this terrible precedent, if established, would affect all future FTAs. A final TPP agreement that does not eliminate all tariffs and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork products will negatively affect U.S. pork exports for the next 20 years, meaning billions of dollars less in U.S. pork sales and tens of thousands fewer U.S. jobs, which is unacceptable to the U.S. pork industry, according to NPPC.

NPPC says that it is important that U.S. pork producers let Congress know they will not settle for a subpar TPP deal that does not include market access for U.S. pork. NPPC is urging U.S. pork producers to contact their elected officials and urge them to seek clear and unequivocal assurances from U.S. trade negotiators that the TPP negotiations will not close unless the Japanese agree to eliminate all barriers on U.S. pork and pork products. NPPC can help producers initiate contact with elected officials.

Last week NPPC joined with other agricultural organizations and Senate Finance Committee member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in a media teleconference to call on U.S. trade negotiators to insist that Japan eliminate tariffs on, and non-tariff barriers to, U.S. agricultural products.

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