WASHINGTON, June 11, 2014 – The chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade says the U.S. should complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership without Japan if the Asian nation insists on retaining tariffs on certain commodities.
In his opening statement at a hearing on trade issues today on Capitol Hill, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., acknowledged that in some cases, tariff reduction may be gradual and that even “a long timeframe may be warranted.”
“But there has to be a path to zero,” Nunes said. “If any countries insist on retaining tariffs, then we must complete the negotiations without them and allow them to rejoin when they can commit to full tariff elimination.”
In the 12-nation TPP negotiations, which aims to create one of the world’s biggest free-trade zones, Japan has insisted that it be allowed to continue to protect its so-called “sacred products,” including beef and pork, dairy, rice, sugar and wheat, as well as other commodities.
Bob McCan, the head of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, told lawmakers any trade agreement must be based on “free-market, science-based principles.”
“Japan’s unwillingness to abide by the principles of free trade threatens the entire process,” McCan said. “We encourage USTR (the U.S. Trade Representative) to remain vigilant and to continue to push the Japanese toward tariff elimination on beef.”
McCan noted that 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., and that access to foreign markets is vital to the U.S. beef industry.
In addition to the U.S. and Japan, the countries involved in the TPP talks are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico , New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Together they account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP, or $28 trillion.
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