In written testimony submitted (11 June) to the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, the National Pork Producers Council reiterated the importance to US pork producers for countries, including those in the current Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to US pork.
NPPC is a strong supporter of the TPP, but the trade talks have bogged down over Japan's reluctance to eliminate tariffs on a number of US agricultural products, including pork.
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% of global GDP.
"The elimination of tariffs is the heart of an FTA," said Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., and chairman of NPPC's trade committee. "US pork producers' support for a final TPP agreement has been conditioned on the elimination of all tariff and non-tariff barriers to US pork exports in each of the TPP nations. If the current Japanese offer on market access were to become part of the final TPP agreement, NPPC would not be able to support TPP or Trade Promotion Authority."
In its written testimony, NPPC also pointed out that if US negotiators allow special treatment for Japan so it can protect its farmers, US agriculture will be cheated out of billions in annual sales to Japan. Further, the precedent established likely would diminish the value to pork producers and the other so-called sensitive sectors of all future FTAs. The European Union and future FTA partners, such as China and the Philippines, will use the Japan deal as the starting point in their negotiations with the United States.
"This is the most important commercial issue ever to face US pork producers," Spronk said. "The U.S. must reject Japan's offer and insist that it do what every other U.S. trading partner has done and what all the other TPP nations are willing to do: eliminate tariffs on virtually all products.
"For US pork, this means elimination of the Gate Price system, tariffs and all protection. If Japan is unwilling to open its market fully to our products, it should exit the TPP negotiations so the U.S. and other nations can expeditiously conclude the talks."
Said Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., in his opening statement: "If any countries insist on retaining tariffs, then we must complete the negotiations without them and allow them to rejoin when they can commit to full tariff elimination."