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U.S. business lobby, farmers hail Japan trade deal, but want more

  • September 26, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 11:15 a.m.
  • English Press

NEW YORK — The largest U.S. business lobby and American farmers on Wednesday welcomed a just-reached trade deal between the United States and Japan, but also stressed the need to remove trade barriers that have not been covered in the latest agreement as well as to address the U.S.-China trade dispute.

 

“Today’s news will spur economic growth and boost sales on both sides of the Pacific, especially for American farmers and ranchers…However, it’s not enough,” Myron Brilliant, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

 

“The Chamber strongly urges the administration to hold fast to its commitment to achieve a comprehensive, high-standard trade agreement with Japan that addresses the full range of our trade priorities, including services, intellectual property protection, and regulatory barriers to trade,” he said.

 

Earlier in the day, U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed in New York on a trade deal that cuts tariffs on farm and industrial products. They have also agreed to enter into negotiations for a deal that would cover barriers to trade in services, investment and other areas.

 

Under the “initial” tariff agreement, Japan will eliminate or reduce tariffs on an additional $7.2 billion of U.S. food and agricultural products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2018, Japan imported $14.1 billion in U.S. food and agricultural products, and $5.2 billion were already duty free.

 

“Today’s announcement is welcome news for American families who produce U.S. beef and Japanese families who purchase it,” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jennifer Houston said in a statement.

 

“Japan is the number one export market for U.S. beef, accounting for one quarter of our exports. The only way for U.S. beef producers to remain competitive in our leading export market is to remove trade barriers through a bilateral trade agreement with Japan,” she said, while urging the two countries to implement the agreement as soon as possible.

 

Japan will immediately lower its tariff on U.S. beef imports from 38.5 percent to 26.6 percent, making it on par with competitors from Australia, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand, according to the association.

 

A group of U.S. pork producers also said in a separate statement that the industry will be put “back on a level playing field with our competitors in Japan” once the agreement is implemented.

 

But the National Pork Producers Council pointed to the importance of resolving trade disputes with China, saying that “it will enable U.S. pork producers to capitalize on an unprecedented sales opportunity with the world’s largest pork-consuming nation.”

 

U.S. farmers have been put at a disadvantage in the Japanese market as recent trade agreements, including the revised 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership that involves countries such as Australia and Canada, lowered Japan’s tariffs on imports from member countries.

 

The United States, initially one of the TPP members, pulled out of the pact in 2017, with Trump saying he preferred to forge bilateral trade deals.

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