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News 546 views last update:Sep 25, 2008

US to negotiate entry into 'P4' trade pact

The National Pork Producers Council has hailed the Bush administration's announcement that it will begin negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, a free trade agreement between Chile, New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei.

In March, the US began talks with the so-called Pacific 4, or P4, countries on investment and financial services as a precursor to possible US membership in the regional free trade agreement.

The FTA between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore went into effect in 2006. It includes an accession clause that allows other nations to join the agreement. Many anticipate that the Trans-Pacific arrangement will be the foundation upon which an Asia-Pacific free trade region can be built.

Important step
“This is an important step toward maintaining and expanding US pork exports to the Asia-Pacific region,” said NPPC President Bryan Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio. “We look forward to the resolution of our market access issues with New Zealand and to the eventual accession of new nations to the agreement.”

“The nations of the Asia-Pacific region are negotiating a patchwork of trade agreements at a staggering pace that threaten to undermine US exports and US jobs and to diminish US influence in the region,” said Nick Giordano, NPPC's vice president and international trade counsel. “This new trade initiative will result in the negotiation of a high-standard, comprehensive agreement that can serve as the basis for an Asia-Pacific free trade region.”

Expanded market
New and expanded market access through trade agreements has been the most important catalyst for increasing US pork exports. Since the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1989, exports of US pork products have grown to more than $3.1 billion in 2007 from $394 million.

Increased pork exports resulting from trade agreements are made possible in part because of the effective working relationship between NPPC and the National Pork Checkoff Board and their shared goal of increasing US pork exports.

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