WASHINGTON, May 23, 2016 - President Barack Obama has begun his week-long visit to Vietnam and Japan and he’ll be extolling the virtues of both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreements during the trip. Obama is in Vietnam today where he’ll be meeting with the country’s president, prime minister and communist party leader.
The U.S. expects good returns from trade with Vietnam if the TPP is implemented. The country now levies a 34 percent tariff on U.S. beef and a 40 percent tariff on U.S. poultry, both of which would be removed under TPP.
But Vietnam has also been at odds with the U.S. for years over the USDA’s takeover of catfish inspection from the FDA. Vietnam threatened to refuse to negotiate on agricultural issues during TPP negotiations last year and recently sent a letter to the WTO, accusing the U.S. of using the USDA to disrupt Vietnamese catfish exports.
The USDA has sent USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza to Vietnam twice this year ahead of Obama’s visit to work with the country on transforming its food safety systems to meet FSIS standards.
Meanwhile in the U.S., the USDA has published a new list of U.S. catfish importing facilities that will be inspected by Food Safety and Inspection Service officials.
In Japan, where Obama will be attending the annual G-7 meeting of major industrialized nations, it won’t just be TPP on the agenda. Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Wally Adeyemo told reporters that the G-7 sessions will allow time for U.S. and EU trade negotiators to get some work done on the controversial T-TIP deal.
Wheat growers say ITC got it wrong on TPP. The U.S. Wheat Associates is in the unique situation of strongly supporting the TPP, but not the U.S. International Trade Commission’s recent report on the 12-nation trade pact. The ITC concluded that U.S. agricultural exports would rise by about $7.2 billion per year by 2032 if the TPP were implemented, but wheat was one of commodities that would not get a boost.
The ITC report concludes that wheat exports would experience a small net decline of about 1.5 million annually due to TPP provisions that would allow Canada to increase its sales to Japan at the expense of U.S. farmers.
But that just isn’t right, the U.S. Wheat Associates argue.
“Given our industry’s 60 years of experience in the unique Japanese market, we respectfully believe that ITC got this one wrong,” the U.S. group said. “ITC’s statement that Canada is positioned to out compete the U.S. in either milling or feed wheat sales to Japan is out of touch with the reality of Japan’s preferences for U.S. wheat.”
… but corn growers say it’s all good: Corn is another commodity that won’t see a bump in exports because of the TPP, according to the ITC report, but the National Corn Growers Association says that’s fine by them. The U.S. would export a lot more beef, milk, pork and poultry under the TPP and that means corn farmers would sell a lot more of their grain domestically to feed those cattle, dairy cows, pigs and chickens.
“NCGA is committed to helping the livestock industry grow demand for U.S. meat and dairy, here and around the world – which in turn increases demand for U.S. corn,” says NCGA President Chip Bowling. “The National Corn Growers Association has been pushing for TPP on the Hill because it is important for the entire U.S. farm economy. We urge Congress to vote in favor of TPP as soon as possible.”
For more on the NCGA’s positions on trade, biotech labeling and the RFS, listen to CEO Chris Novak on this week’s Open Mic interview.
China’s sugar woes continue. Chinese sugar production continues to decline while imports take up some of the slack, according to a new report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
“The sugar industry in China has now suffered four consecutive years of operating losses due to high production costs, the elimination of government support prices, and import competition,” the FAS officials write. “Most sugar mills are operating at a loss and some mills are closing; many sugar cane farmers are turning to other more profitable crops. As a result, domestic sugar production is falling and imports are rising.”
China is now expected to produce just 8.4 million tons of sugar for the 2015-16 marketing year, a steep dive from the previous forecast of about 10.6 million tons. Imports are now expected to rise to 6.7 million tons, up from an earlier estimate of 5.5 million tons.
And production is expected to fall another 200,000 tons to 8.2 million tons for the 2016-17 marketing year, with imports going up to 7.9 million tons.
Tariff relief extension becomes law. President Obama has signed into law The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, which sets up a process for determining tariff relief on components that the pesticide industry need to import. The bill replaces a law that expired in 2012. The previous miscellaneous tariff bill, as it is known, expired in 2012. The American Farm Bureau Federation, CropLife America and several agribusiness companies, including Deere and Company, Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bayer CropScience, signed a letter asking Congress to pass the new measure.
Too busy to protest? Organizers reported that hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens were expected to gather across more than 38 countries and 428 cities on Saturday to join in the March against Monsanto. But the turnout to protest the agribusiness company and its GMO seeds wasn’t exactly as predicted – at least in some cities. In Vancouver, Canada, the 4th annual event was cancelled due to poor turnout, according to local news reports. The San Diego Reader reported that the event drew 250 people, far short of previous crowds numbering a thousand. And in Wichita about a dozen people showed up, according to KSN-TV.
CPB: Mangos and cocaine don’t mix. The U.S. is on track to import more than $5 billion of fruit from Mexico this year, but that total won’t likely include a shipment of mangos detained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency this month. CBP field agents arrested a 51-year-old Mexican man on the Texas side of the border after discovering about $1.1 million worth of cocaine in 60 separate packages hidden amongst crates of the stone fruit, the agency reported.