Meat groups express concerns over trade deals

Meat groups express concerns over trade deals

How far tariffs will decrease in Pacific and European trade deals very crucial.

U.S. negotiators continue to schedule trade meetings on both sides of the world that could have significant opportunities to expand U.S. meat exports.

However, significant obstacles remain in achieving a final deal palatable to the U.S. agriculture industry.

National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. president Bob McCann said groups have been working diligently on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is entering its final rounds in the next few months.

TPP is a regional trade negotiation that includes the U.S., Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40% of global gross domestic product.

Japan is the fourth-largest market for U.S. agriculture, which shipped $12.1 billion of food and agricultural products to the island nation in 2013. Japan is also a lucrative market for U.S. pork, with $1.89 billion in sales in 2013.

However, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said it will oppose a final TPP deal if Japan doesn't eliminate all tariffs and other forms of protection on pork.

"A final TPP agreement that does not eliminate all tariffs and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork products will negatively affect U.S. pork exports for the next 20 years, meaning billions of dollars less in U.S. pork sales and tens of thousands fewer U.S. jobs," NPPC said. "If the United States allows product exclusions, future TPP partners such as China and the Philippines inevitably will demand the right to do the same."

Lead trade negotiators from Japan and the U.S., along with other TPP partners, met in Singapore last week to discuss outstanding critical points of the negotiations, including U.S. pork market access in Japan.

Beef producers are coming off a record year of exports, up 12% for 2013. McCann noted that beef producers sold $1.5 billion of beef to Japan in 2013, but at high tariffs. He said TPP offers an opportunity to hopefully leverage down some of those high tariffs.

Beef producers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S., working in a coordinated partnership known as the Five Nations Beef Alliance, issued a statement expressing concern at the possibility that some TPP members may seek to exclude some so-called "sensitive" products from comprehensive, duty-free access.

"It is also our firm view that for ease of use and flexibility for all current and future TPP members, all agricultural market access schedules within the TPP deal should be plurilateral. This would ensure that all countries receive the same tariff phase-out period and reduction in tariffs for each tariff line, as well as ensuring future TPP aspirant countries have a clear understanding of the level of commitment required in agricultural market access," the groups stated.

 

Europe

The fourth round of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations between the U.S. and the European Union is set for March 10-14 in Brussels, Belgium.

Reports indicate that the EU is expected to make an offer to the U.S. ahead of their talks to lift existing tariffs on nearly all goods imported from America. Unfortunately, the EU has stated that it is unwilling to eliminate tariffs on beef, poultry and pork, NPPC reported.

NPPC said its position is that tariffs should be reduced to zero on all products, including pork.

"The elimination of tariff rate quotas and of unscientific barriers put up by the EU to protect its domestic industries are reasonable requests that are consistent with all previous U.S. free trade agreements; the EU should be no different," NPPC said.

The EU is the second-largest market in the world for pork consumption and represents a tremendous market opportunity for U.S. pork exports. Any trade deal with the EU must eliminate all tariffs and barriers on U.S. pork, NPPC said.

Removal of all EU barriers would significantly increase U.S. pork exports to the EU and create more than 17,000 U.S. jobs, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.

McCann acknowledged that T-TIP is going to be a little more of a challenge but said it offers a huge opportunity.

"We know there are hurdles to overcome but feel it will be worthwhile to try to put something together there to help us sell a little more beef overseas," he said.

Volume:86 Issue:08

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