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Japan Holding Up Free Trade Talks

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A free trade agreement with 12 Pacific Rim countries is being held up by Japan.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) eliminates many agriculture tariffs, which could add billions of dollars in U.S. export sales. But a major hold up in the talks are Japan's proposal to maintain tariffs on sensitive products like beef, dairy, wheat, rice, and pork.

At the World Pork Expo last week, the National Pork Producers' Council (NPPC) vocalized its opposition to the current deal. NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano says Japan needs to do what every other TPP country is prepared to do, eliminate tariffs.

He says, "This is the lynchpin issue, it's what's holding up TPP from closing. If the Japanese put forward and offer on agriculture and it looked like the offer that the U.S., that Vietnam, that Malaysia what other countries are willing to do. What our past FTA partners are doing, TPP would close quickly, it would be the best deal ever for U.S. ag."

Giordano says if the U.S. agrees on Japan's negotiations it sets the bar low for future free trade agreements. He says as it stands, the deal would cost hundreds of millions of dollars in sales annually in pork alone.

Japan was the number one export market of U.S. pork in 2012 with $1.99 billion in sales.