U.S. cattlemen slam Japan-Australia trade deal

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 - The National Cattlemen's Beef Association criticized the bilateral trade agreement reached between Japan and Australia, saying the deal undermines the goals of the Trans-Pacific Partnership which the U.S. is negotiating with the two countries and other nations.

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 NCBA President Bob McCan said his organization is “deeply concerned'' that the pact between Japan and Australia, announced today in Tokyo, does not call for full tariff elimination. Under the deal, Japan would cut but not eliminate its tariff on frozen beef while Australia would end its levy on automobiles. Some observers say the agreement may encourage Japan to further resist U.S. demands to scrap agricultural tariffs in the TPP.

“This development only pushes the high-standing ideals of TPP further out of reach for all countries involved, and it is not a move that U.S. beef producers can support,” McCan said in a news release.

The National Pork Producers Council, meanwhile, repeated its call for Japan to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff trade barriers for U.S. agricultural products as part of the TPP talks.

In the TPP negotiations, Japan is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector, including exemption from tariff elimination of certain “sensitive” products. It wants exemptions for 586 tariff lines, or 11 percent of its tariff schedule, the NPCC said, noting that in the 17 free trade agreements (FTAs) the U.S. has concluded since 2000, only 233 tariff lines combined have been exempted from going to a zero tariff.

“If the United States meets Japan's demands,'' NPCC said, “it would be a radical departure from past U.S. trade agreements and would open the door to tariff line exemptions from other countries in the TPP and in future U.S. trade deals. It would establish a dangerous precedent for exemptions not just in agriculture but on industrial and high-tech products.”

The TPP is a regional negotiation, now in its fifth year, that includes the U.S., Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is scheduled to have talks in Tokyo this week with his Japanese counterparts. The U.S. is demanding increased access to Japan's agricultural and car markets, while Japan wants to get rid of U.S. tariffs on car and truck imports.

“The Japanese need to eliminate tariffs on pork and other U.S. farm products,” said NPPC President Howard Hill, a pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. “Japan is asking for special treatment in the form of exempting myriad tariff lines from tariff elimination, yet tariff elimination is the heart of an FTA.”

Hill said U.S. farmers and ranchers likely would agree with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., who last week said that if Japan is not ready to participate in a high-standard, 21st century agreement, which means elimination of tariffs, it needs to exit the negotiations.

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