steak meat case beef USDA photo by Alice Welch

Ag hopes Japan is first up on Trump's trade agenda

Pork and cattle producer groups urge President Trump to begin bilateral trade negotiations with Japan.

Ahead of a state visit here by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slated for Feb. 10, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. (NCBA) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) urged President Donald Trump to begin negotiations on a free and fair trade agreement with Japan.

In a joint letter transmitted to the White House on Feb. 7, NCBA and NPPC asked the President “to initiate free trade agreement negotiations with nations in the Asia-Pacific region, beginning with Japan. ... As you continue to lead America forward, we want to be a resource for your Administration for possible strategies in improving existing and future trade agreements for the benefit of our producers.”
 
Abe will be in Washington Friday to meet with Trump on a number of matters, including security challenges and bilateral trade.
 
“A successful, comprehensive agreement with Japan would result in one of the greatest trade agreements for the U.S. pork and beef industries and for many other sectors,” said NCBA president Craig Uden, a cattle rancher from Elwood, Neb.
 
NPPC president John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa, added, “Securing strong market access to Japan and other Asian markets is a priority for the U.S. beef and pork industries, and we appreciate the President’s leadership and dedication to making our products the most competitive around the world.”
 
For U.S. beef and pork exports, Japan is the highest-value international market. In fiscal 2016, Japanese consumers purchased $1.4 billion of U.S. beef products and $1.5 billion of U.S. pork products. Demand in the Asian nation for U.S. beef and pork is very strong, despite Japan's tariffs and other import measures that limit market access for both products.
 
Under terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Japan’s 38.5% tariff on fresh and frozen beef would have been cut to 9% over the agreement’s phase-in period and would have given the U.S. beef industry parity with Australia in the Japanese market. Japan’s tariffs on pork, which are determined through a so-called gate price system, would have been substantially reduced as part of the TPP agreement.
 
An analysis by the U.S. International Trade Commission found that beef exports to TPP countries, which included the U.S., Japan and 10 other Asia-Pacific nations, would grow by $876 million per year through the end of the phase-in period and that most of the growth would be in trade to Japan. Likewise, it found that pork exports to TPP countries would grow by $387 million, with most of the exports going to Japan. Nearly 9,000 U.S. jobs would be generated by increased exports of livestock products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s export multiplier.

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