U.S. Pork Producers Hope For Resolution in Japan Trade Talks

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Trade talks between U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer and Japan's economy minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, are set for Monday and Tuesday in Washington, with the U.S. hoping to strike a “quick” deal on agriculture, reports Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer.

Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso suggested the U.S. is in no hurry to reach a trade deal with the nation. 

“They’re too busy with China. I don’t think they can spare enough people to talk to us,” Aso told reporters Friday in Washington during the spring International Monetary Fund meetings. “There have been no official requests made directly to us on what the U.S. would like to achieve.”

The discussions will follow in the spirit of the joint statement released last September when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump agreed to begin trade talks, according to Japanese officials. 

That means Japan cannot make concessions on agricultural market access beyond what it agreed to in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free-trade agreement between 11 nations in the Asia-Pacific region that followed after Trump abandoned an earlier pact his third day in office, Wiesemeyer says. 

“Tokyo is hoping to avoid tariffs on its cars and Trump has previously shown he will use the threat of such tariffs as part of his trade policy strategy,” Wiesemeyer says.

NPPC Urges Trade Resolution with Japan
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) urged the Trump administration to expeditiously complete and deliver for ratification to Congress a trade deal that puts U.S. pork producers back on a level playing field in Japan.

“U.S. pork producers are losing market share in Japan to international competitors that have recently negotiated more favorable trade terms in our most valuable market,” David Herring, NPPC’s president and a pork producer from Lillington, N.C. said in a press release on April 1. “We are already seeing a decline in sales to Japan and will see market loss accelerate if we don’t quickly secure competitive access to Japan.”

Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, says U.S. pork will see exports to Japan grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to more than $2.2 billion over the next 15 years if the U.S. quickly gains access on par with international competitors. Hayes reports that U.S. pork shipments to Japan will drop to $349 million if a trade deal on these terms is not quickly reached with Japan.

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