AGRIBUSINESS: Former Ag Secretaries Highlight Importance of Japan’s Inclusion in TPP

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Two former Secretaries of Agriculture believe Japan’s decision to seek inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations could be a game-changer for U.S. agriculture and good news for the country’s overall economy.

Now Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns and former Congressman Dan Glickman note Japan has strong demand for the ag products America’s farmers and ranchers can supply. U.S. agricultural exports to Japan topped 13.5-billion dollars in 2012. That’s eight times higher than U.S. exports to Vietnam - the next biggest agricultural market among the TPP nations that don’t already have free trade agreements with the U.S. According to Johanns and Glickman - the U.S. was able to achieve these trade levels despite Japan’s history of placing restrictions on key imports.

Johanns and Glickman say Japan’s entry into the TPP is essential to improving market access for U.S. producers. They note nations rarely reduce or eliminate tariffs unilaterally. Instead - tariff quotas and similar trade-limiting measures are usually reduced as part of trade negotiations. That’s why the former Secretaries say the inclusion of Japan as a negotiating member of TPP offers the best hope for improved market access and eventual free trade with the country. They add that improved trade relations will most likely increase exports for many U.S. agricultural products - including wheat, barley, rice, beef, pork, poultry, dairy products and soybean oil - and in turn boost our nation’s economy at a time when job creation and growth are needed.

Johanns and Glickman admit it’s impossible to predict the outcome of the negotiations with Japan on TPP. But they say they can safely predict that without Japan in the talks - an opportunity will have been lost for U.S. agriculture.