WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2017 – U.S. beef and pork producers are hoping that the meeting this week between President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will lead eventually to a bilateral trade deal that reduces tariffs on U.S. exports.

Japan was a key member of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) had hoped a completion of the trade pact would boost U.S. exports.

Both groups strongly supported the TPP before Trump followed through with campaign promises and pulled the U.S. out of it.

“While we may not agree with the decision to withdraw from the TPP, we respect that this is the position of the U.S. government, and we request that you prioritize securing strong market access to Asia-Pacific markets for U.S. beef and pork exports,” the groups said today in a letter to Trump. “A successful, comprehensive agreement with Japan would result in one of the greatest trade agreements for the U.S. pork and beef industries and for many other sectors, as well.”

Japan is the highest value foreign market for U.S. beef and pork. The Japanese consumed about $1.4 billion of U.S. beef and $1.5 billion of U.S. pork in fiscal 2016, according to NCBA and NPPC.

The two farm groups have key support in Congress. Republican Sen. Joni Ernst from Iowa wrote her own letter to Trump, asking him to help bring Japanese tariffs down.

“One out of every three pounds of bacon, ham or sausage in the U.S. comes from the Hawkeye state,” Ernst said in her letter, a copy of which was obtained by Agri-Pulse. “As it would happen, Japan is the second-largest market for U.S. pork exports by volume and the largest in terms of value. All of this despite significant import protections Japan imposes through a gate price system. I ask that you do everything in your power to negotiate outright elimination of all barriers for pork and pork products in any bilateral trade deal with Japan.”

But Ernst also highlighted the good that negotiations could do to help U.S. beef exporters expand their sales to Japan, where Australian exports have the advantage of lower tariffs.

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NCBA stressed that under the now defunct TPP, Japan’s 38.5 percent tariff on U.S. beef would have been cut to just 9 percent.

The beef and pork groups aren’t the only ones urging Trump to help boost U.S. farm exports ahead of Abe’s visit and after hopes of a TPP were dashed.

Eighty-seven agricultural groups and food companies signed onto a separate letter to Trump to tell him they were eager to work with him to build upon the valuable aspects of (TPP) to increase U.S. market access in the Asia-Pacific.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, Campbell Soup Company, National Potato Council, U.S. Grains Council and others wrote: “America’s food and agriculture sector is poised to grow internationally, building upon its well-deserved reputation for high quality products, trusted brands and constant innovation.  Our ability to continue to create jobs and support economic growth in rural America depends on maintaining and increasing access to markets outside the United States through existing and future trade agreements.”


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