Grassley, agriculture groups rail against Japan tariff demands

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 - Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and several agricultural groups reiterated their opposition today to Japanese tariff demands as part of the negotiations over a final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

Grassley held a conference call that included officials from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the National Oilseed Processors Association, and the U.S. Wheat Alliance.

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Japan is resisting demands to ease tariffs on exports that would compete against its five so-called “sacred” products - rice, wheat, sugar, dairy, and pork and beef.

“We have one country that seems to think they can keep five agricultural products off the table,” Grassley said. “We were told everything would be on the table. We have to hold their feet to the fire.”

Grassley said the agreement could move on without Japan's participation, but that the deal would be “much more valuable with Japan.”

Nick Giordano, NPPC vice president and counsel for international affairs, said allowing that many tariff exemptions to Japan would likely empower other countries in the trade talks to push for their own exemptions.

“Japan may expect special treated, but it's not entitled to special treatment,” Giordano said.

The TPP is a regional trade negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP. The United States shipped $13.5 billion of food and agricultural products to Japan in 2012. Results of these negotiations will affect future trade agreements, including the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership now being negotiated between the United States and the European Union, they said. 

NCBA President Bob McCan said that while Japan is the leading export market for U.S. beef, the country “must be treated the same as other TPP countries.”

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