WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2014 – The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) says the U.S. should cut off bilateral talks with Japan on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and complete the trade pact with the other 10 nations involved in the negotiations.
To continue talks with Tokyo, which is resisting U.S. demands that it get rid of protective tariffs on rice, beef and pork and other so-called “sacred” agricultural commodities, the U.S. could be undermining longstanding U.S. trade policy and risking an unraveling of the TPP, NPPC said in a news release.
“Acquiescing to Japan’s demand would represent a radical departure from past U.S. trade policy, which has held to the principle that free trade agreements must cover virtually all trade between the parties,” the NPPC said. “The exemptions from tariff elimination demanded by Japan would be more than all of the tariff line exemptions contained in the previous 17 free trade agreements (FTAs) combined the United States has implemented this century. Pork never has been excluded from tariff elimination in a U.S. free trade agreement.”
NPPC’s statement was released a day after the latest high-level negotiations between the U.S. and Japan concluded in Washington with no progress on the critical issues involving agricultural products and automobiles. The two sides said they would consult with their respective governments before announcing how to move forward.
In its release, NPPC asserted that submitting to Japan’s demands would signal to the European Union that it could seek similar exemptions from full tariff liberalization for U.S. products in the trade pact Washington is negotiating with the EU, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The Japanese position, NPPC said, is being pushed by a “small protectionist group of farmers” who are holding the TPP talks hostage.
“It is incumbent on others in Japan to overcome the opposition of this small group of farmers, which is keeping Japanese food prices among the highest in the world,” NPPC said. “Economic studies show that Japan will benefit tremendously from the TPP.”
NPPC said the U.S. should reject any offer from Japan that falls short of what it has demanded of, and received from, its other FTA partners, including many developing countries.
“Most of those nations had, and continue to have, serious sensitivities in agriculture, and they must wonder why Japan, one of the most advanced nations on Earth, is more deserving of such privileged treatment. The TPP, as with other FTAs, should not be about whether to move to free trade in virtually all products, but how and when.”
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