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ECONOMY > Agriculture

US farmers’ groups urge Trump to pursue FTA with Japan

  • February 8, 2017
  • , Nikkei Asian Review
  • English Press

WASHINGTON — Two influential U.S. livestock farmers’ organizations sent a joint letter to U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday, calling on the president to start negotiations on a free trade agreement with Japan.


The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council are both well-established organizations in the U.S. and are influential supporters of the Republican Party.


Calls are mounting from livestock farmers for bilateral trade negotiations with Japan ahead of Friday’s meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump, who has voiced concern about the auto trade between the two countries, which he described as “not fair.”


In the letter addressed to the president, the two organizations said: “We urge you to initiate free trade agreement negotiations with nations in the Asia-Pacific region beginning with Japan.”


Calling Japan “our highest value international market for both beef and pork exports,” the groups argued that “our presence in Japan’s market could be much larger with the reduction or elimination of tariffs and other import measures.”


American beef exports to Japan dropped as much as 13% in 2015 from a year before, while Australian beef exports to Japan increased by 3% thanks to a tariff reduction. “We are concerned that if we do not act soon, we will fall further behind our competitors in these important markets,” the letter said.


The U.S. is expected to call for bilateral trade negotiations at the upcoming meeting between Trump and Abe in Washington.  


Japan currently imposes a 38.5% tariff on American beef imports. The tariff was supposed to eventually drop to 9% once the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement went into effect, but Trump withdrew the U.S. from that accord. Many in Japan are wary of starting bilateral trade negotiations with the U.S. because of the risk that Washington might demand a deeper cut to the tariff. 

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