Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Wednesday 05/28/14

Commodity Groups Dismayed Over Japan's TPP Stance

U.S. dairy, pork, rice and wheat groups on Wednesday issued a combined statement expressing their dismay over some statements by Japan's minister of economic policy at the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks earlier this week in Singapore.

The International Dairy Foods Association, National Pork Producers Council, the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates and USA Rice Federation all came together to criticize the lack of market access proposed by Japan for their products.

Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari had indicated at the meeting that it was critical for the trade talks to reach some agreement by the end of the year.The groups called on U.S. negotiators to "push Japan to provide meaningful agricultural market access in the agreement."

As the commodity groups stated, "Amari's statement in Singapore that none of Japan's sensitive agricultural items will be fully liberalized may signal the end of hopes for the Trans-Pacific Partnership to become a truly comprehensive and forward-looking 21st century agreement. A country cannot shield its primary agricultural products from competition and still claim to be committed to a high-standard agreement liberalizing essentially all goods." ??????

The farm groups indicated they had high hopes when Japan joined the TPP talks. Japan had agreed to "to pursue an agreement that is comprehensive and ambitious in all areas, eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment," the groups stated, pointing to a report by TPP Trade Ministers to Leaders.

Yet Amari flatly told the other negotiating countries that Japan will not abolish tariffs in the five agricultural sectors it considers "sacred," the farm groups stated. Those five sectors include seven basic agricultural products, covering most of agricultural production: dairy, sugar, rice, beef, pork, wheat and barley. They also include many downstream products made from those seven items, such as flour and flour mixes made from wheat and rice, the ag groups stated

The farm groups added, "The broad exemption that Japan is demanding will encourage other partner countries to withhold their sensitive sectors as well. The result would fall far short of a truly comprehensive agreement that would set a new standard for future trade agreements. In fact the TPP envisioned by Japan, if it stands, would be the least comprehensive agreement the U.S. has negotiated since the 21st century began."

Failing a better offer from Japan, the ag groups stated, "the alternative is suspending negotiations with Japan for now and concluding a truly comprehensive agreement with those TPP partners that are willing to meet the originally contemplated level of ambition. It is a big step but one that will be justified if Japan continues to refuse to open its agricultural sector to meaningful competition."

Chris Clayton can be reached at chris.clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 8:50PM CDT 05/28/14 by Chris Clayton
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