McKinney returns from Japan

Japan would like to see U.S. "back into the fold" of TPP countries.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

March 12, 2018

2 Min Read
McKinney returns from Japan
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue hosts a reception on the Whitten Patio Oct. 23, 2017 to introduce the new Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney to the Washington diplomatic community. Attendees included ambassadors and agricultural counselors and attachés from more than 45 foreign embassies.USDA Photo by Preston Keres

U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs Ted McKinney recently spent two days in Japan and said he remains bullish on the optimism for trade with Japan. While there, he spent time at the large regional food trade show and continued to build relationships with those in Japan.

He said he heard many times about the importance of the trading relationship between the U.S. and Japan and genuinely “how important each market is to each other.”

However, he did say he was reminded by the contacts in Japan that the U.S. would be at a competitive disadvantage to other countries that have now signed onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

McKinney said they were courteous to remind him of the fact the U.S. is not in TPP but were “not in my face,” which he said he appreciated. “I acknowledge we do understand the stakes,” he said of not being part of the lucrative, multilateral trade deal designed to lower tariff barriers.

“They want U.S. products,” McKinney said about Japan, echoing the call the President and Vice President have made in seeking a bilateral trade deal with Japan. He also said he would support the U.S. rejoining TPP-11 to make it TPP-12 should that be the decision the President and others would like to make.

Related:McKinney bullish on bilateral trade agreement with Japan

Japan "would love for us to come back into the fold,” McKinney said, but explained that it may take some time to get that settled.

Japan recently indicated that it will reduce its safeguard quotas on imports of U.S. beef at the end of the month. McKinney said he proactively thanked them for that action and said he would be “very disappointed if it didn’t get lifted” as the Japanese people are an “honorable people.”

McKinney said he continues to be optimistic about the future of U.S. agricultural exports. The quality and trust of the safety in those products “continue to help us win the day,” he said.

Although he did not hear much on the ground about the proposed aluminum and steel tariffs, he said he respected the actions taken to break down some of the barriers around the world, not just specific to Japan. He reiterated that it's “clear some of those barriers have to come down.”

“There might be some great leverage that can come from it,” McKinney said of the steel tariffs. “We must not finish the chapter at the present time but see how it plays out. We’re trying to tell the world we’re serious about fair trade.”

He went on to explain that the U.S. is one of the most open countries in the world when it comes to trade. When problems arise, it naturally will bring bumps along the road.

“The book is not written on ag trade, but we’re going to keep pursuing it,” McKinney said.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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