With US trade representative Michael Froman in Japan this week and that country recently concluding a free trade agreement with Australia, the National Pork Producers Council again called on Japan to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff trade barriers for US agricultural products as part of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks.
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 percent of global GDP.
Froman is meeting with his Japanese counterparts in Tokyo this week.
In the TPP talks, Japan is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector, including exemption from tariff elimination of certain “sensitive” products. It wants exemptions for 586 tariff lines, or 11 percent of its tariff schedule. In the 17 free trade agreements (FTAs) the United States has concluded since 2000, only 233 tariff lines combined have been exempted from going to a zero tariff.
If the United States meets Japan’s demands, NPPC has pointed out, it would be a radical departure from past US trade agreements and would open the door to tariff line exemptions from other countries in the TPP and in future US trade deals. It would establish a dangerous precedent for exemptions not just in agriculture but on industrial and high-tech products.
In its FTA deal with Japan, Australia did not get tariff elimination on a number of important products, but a clause in the agreement requires the Japanese to provide the same access to Australia that it provides to other nations. Should the United States get better access to Japan in the TPP negotiations, Australia would get that same access.
“The Japanese need to eliminate tariffs on pork and other US farm products,” said NPPC president Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. “Japan is asking for special treatment in the form of exempting myriad tariff lines from tariff elimination, yet tariff elimination is the heart of an FTA.”
Hill said US farmers and ranchers likely would agree with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., who last week said that if Japan is not ready to participate in a high-standard, 21st century agreement, which means elimination of tariffs, it needs to exit the negotiations.
“We support the efforts of Ambassador Froman and our trade team to get the same result from Japan that we have gotten from every other US FTA partner: elimination of virtually all tariffs,” said Hill.