Increased pork exports resulting from a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement would create more than 20,000 direct and indirect U.S. pork-related jobs, with the vast majority generated by Japan alone, theNational Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said at a press conference held today.

The TPP is a regional trade negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for a combined 30% of global GDP. Japan already has free trade agreements with seven of the 11 TPP countries: Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The Obama administration on Friday agreed to accept Japan into the trade negotiations.

“Increasing pork exports are important to many more Americans than just pork producers,” said NPPC Vice President and International Trade Counsel Nick Giordano. He pointed out that more than 110,000 U.S. jobs are generated by U.S. pork exports. “We expect having Japan join the TPP will likewise provide increased market opportunities and more jobs for us.” 

Japan’s economy is second only to China’s in the region, and it is the fourth-largest U.S. agricultural export market overall. U.S. food and agricultural exports to Japan in 2012 totaled $13.5 billion. Japan is the top value export market for U.S. pork, accounting for almost $2 billion in 2012 sales.

NPPC was joined at the press conference by the American Farm Bureau Federation, Cargill Incorporated, the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Potato Council and the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Last week, those groups and more than 70 other food and agricultural organizations sent a letter to President Obama, urging the administration to welcome Japan into the TPP talks.

“The addition of Japan to the negotiations will exponentially increase the importance of the TPP to our members and to other sectors of the U.S. economy,” the groups said.

“The bottom line,” NPPC’s Giordano added, “is that TPP with Japan represents the single most important trade negotiation ever for the U.S. pork industry and for most of our colleagues in American agriculture.”