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U.S. signs off on Japan's entry into TPP talks

Japan's entry into Trans Pacific Partnership talks offer significant opportunity to enhance U.S. exports to the region.

The Obama administration announced it reached an agreement to allow Japan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. If approved by the other 11 countries, Japan would join trade talks that present a significant multilateral opportunity to increase world exports as World Trade Organization talks have stalled.

"As the fourth-largest U.S. agricultural export market, with nearly $14 billion in purchases in 2012, Japan is crucial to America's farmers and ranchers. Both the United States and Japan will benefit from Japan being a TPP partner, and by sharing in improved sanitary and phytosanitary standards for agricultural trade and expanded market access with TPP nations," American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement.

A statement from the U.S. Wheat Associates stated as the world's third largest economy, Japan's entry will bring the economic output of the TPP member countries to more than $27 trillion according to the International Monetary Fund. By including Japan, two-thirds of economic activity of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member countries would be part of TPP. "That kind of economic weight will add credence to the long-term TPP goal of liberalizing trade in the Asia-Pacific region," USW said.  

The TPP is a regional trade negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for a combined 30% of global GDP. Japan already has free trade agreements with seven of the 11 TPP countries: Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

National Pork Producers Council president Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., said, “Japan’s entry into the trade talks will spur interest in the TPP among other countries in Asia and Latin America, and it will signal to other nations that efforts to negotiate more open and transparent trading arrangements will continue, even as multilateral efforts to do so are stymied.”

Agricultural groups have all welcomed the possibility of Japan joining the conversation, but also point to the nation's sensitivity on trade issues when it comes to agriculture. In a briefing with members of the North American Agricultural Journalists this week, U.S. chief agricultural negotiator Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, shared that Japan, as do all the nations involved in the TPP discussions have agreed to bring everything to the table to allow for the high standard and comprehensive goals of any agreement.

"Each country has some sensitivities, including the U.S. Those sensitivities will be part of these negotiations," Siddiqui said.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R., Neb.) welcomed the opportunity to deepen trade and diplomatic relationship with Japan. "Japan recently removed some barriers to U.S. beef – we should build on that progress with a strong agreement that benefits our economy, farmers, and workers, as well as our negotiating partners.”

Japan was the second largest export market for U.S. beef in 2012 at $1 billion in sales. On Feb. 1, 2013, Japan implemented new import protocols allowing U.S. beef from cattle harvested under 30 months in age.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association president Elect Bob McCan said, "TPP has the potential to be a new era in global trade where all TPP countries can compete for consumer demand without the hindrance of protectionism.”

Japan is the top value export market for U.S. pork, accounting for almost $2 billion in 2012 sales. “With Japan in it, TPP is the single most important trade negotiation ever for U.S. pork and many other U.S. agricultural products,” said Spronk. “We estimate that a South Korea-Colombia-type outcome for U.S. pork in the TPP negotiation – meaning the elimination of all tariff and non-tariff barriers – will create 27,000 direct and indirect pork industry jobs in the United States."

Japan is the United States’ number one export market for corn, importing 453 million bushels of U.S. corn in the 2011-2012 crop year. In recent years, Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries have become growing markets for distillers grains, a co-product of ethanol production.

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