Japan puts snag in Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement

Mar 14, 2014

Last week, producers and stake holders supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) reiterated that any final agreement must deliver on the 2011 TPP Ministers’ position of eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade.

In a press conference with several ag organizations, the groups explained why their support has now switched to opposition; Japan’s offer does not even come close to meeting the agreement expectations. Participating in a conference were representatives from the National Pork Producers Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef

Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, and the National Association of Wheat Growers Association.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R- IA) also joined the groups, pointing out that Japan’s negotiating position in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership excludes a number of agricultural products as part of a final agreement.

“Japan seems to believe that they’re entitled to keep five sacred agriculture products off the table,” said Grassley, who said he had spoke with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman just prior to the press conference. Grassley said that when Japan agreed to join the negotiations they knew everything had to be on the table. “We’ve got to hold their feet to the fire.”

“The third largest country in the world can’t make protectionist moves like that without it having a ripple effect,” he added.

The five broad agricultural product categories that Japan wants to exempt from the TPP agreement are pork and beef, wheat and barley, rice and starch, dairy, and sugar.

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), TPP is “the most significant trade negotiation in a generation.”

According to an analysis supported by the Peterson Institute, a TPP agreement provides global income benefits of an estimated $223 billion per year, by 2025. Real income benefits to the United States are an estimated $77 billion per year.

The TPP could generate an estimated $305 billion in additional world exports per year, by 2025, including an additional $123.5 billion in U.S. exports.

But beef producers from the four largest beef producing TPP member countries agreed from the beginning that any TPP agreement must deliver on the 2011 TPP Ministers’ position of eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade.

Beef producers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, working in a coordinated partnership known as the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) anticipated early on the possibility that Japan may seek to exclude some so-called “sensitive” products from Granting a TPP member any such exclusion would result in other members seeking similar treatment, leading to a decline in the agreement’s level of ambition and the resulting economic growth that it would bring, the groups shared. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor