WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2014 – In a letter sent today to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) asked U.S. negotiators on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to insist that Japan eliminate its tariff system for pork imports.
The letter notes that Japan's current TPP offer includes exemptions from tariff elimination for certain "sensitive" products, including pork.
NPPC President Howard Hill said the tariff system, or “Gate Price,” is associated with a history of fraud and criminal activity. He also said it discriminates against Japanese consumers by putting upward pressure on food prices and has prompted Japanese meat processing companies to translocate to other Asian nations.
“Additionally, sources in Japan have informed us that there is widespread opposition within Japanese government ministries to the continued operation of the Gate Price,” the letter stated. “Only the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) staunchly supports the continued operation of the Gate Price.”
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.
Froman visited Iowa last week, where he emphasized the importance of agricultural exports to the U.S. economy. Among his stops, Froman visited the Iowa State Fair, where he had lunch with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, at the Iowa Pork Tent.
“Trade has been essential to our economic recovery,” Froman said in a press release. “U.S. exports are hitting record highs and supporting tens of thousands of jobs in Iowa.”
The Obama Administration is working to complete “the most ambitious, far-reaching, cutting-edge trade agenda in history, which will give the U.S. premium access to 2/3 of the world economy,” Froman said.
However, Hill reiterated in his letter that, “Pork producers’ support for a final TPP Agreement is conditioned on the elimination of all tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork exports in each of the TPP nations, including the elimination of the Gate Price in Japan.”
Japan is the top export market for U.S. pork, which shipped nearly $2 billion of products to the nation in 2013.
NPPC’s letter said Japan’s current TPP offer on pork, “Would rob the U.S. pork industry of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual pork exports to Japan…Further, the disposition of this issue will impact our producers for the next 25 years, setting a precedent for future U.S. free trade agreements.”
To view NPPC’s letter, click here.
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