President Obama is currently in Tokyo for a meeting with Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is on the table.
Agriculture is a major sticking point; Japan insists it be allowed to keep several sensitive products, such as beef, pork, and dairy products off the table in trade talks.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says if foreign negotiators don’t open their ag markets, the United States may be better off without any deal at all.
Former USDA trade adviser under President Clinton, Paul Drazek, says here at home the president is hesitant to fight Congress on renewing trade promotion authority, which lets the executive branch broker deals Congress can pass or reject but not amend. Drazek says amendments added to a TPA bill could be poorly received by trading partners, and grind negotiations to a halt.
The TPP talks involve 12 Pacific Rim countries, together representing about 40% of the global economy.