Home / Farm Management / Farm Programs & Policies / Slow Road to Japanese Agriculture Trade

Slow Road to Japanese Agriculture Trade

DANIEL LOOKER 03/24/2014 @ 10:22am Business Editor

With the biofuels boom slowing, trade and exports are regaining importance. When Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed the Commodity Classic last month, he got applause with a promise to use USDA trade promotion to sell biofuels. “We think the world is ready for American biofuel,” Vilsack said.

Japan, however, may not be ready for more American rice. One of America’s best customers for farm products is balking at putting long-protected domestic agriculture on the table for negotiations over a new Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. The zone of freer trade would include a dozen nations on both sides of the Pacific (but not China), an area with 40% of the world’s GDP.

Just before a ministerial meeting in Singapore last month to move negotiations along, Japan was asking for special treatment for its agriculture. 

That prompted a bipartisan group of 18 U.S. senators to write U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. Led by Michael Bennett (D-CO) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), they raised concerns that Japan hasn’t yet made a comprehensive offer on ag products.

“In previous trade negotiations, the United States requested and received full and comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector from both developed countries like Japan as well as developing countries,” the senators wrote. “By requesting special treatment for its agricultural sector in the TPP, Japan may upset the careful balance of concessions that the 11 [other] economies involved in the negotiations have achieved.”

Talks in Singapore ended without resolving that issue.

“A lot of people are watching the United States and Japan,” says Floyd Gaibler, head of trade policy for the U.S. Grains Council. “Rice, wheat, sugar, meat products, and dairy are especially sensitive. If the United States and Japan – the two biggest economies involved in the talks – can reach an agreement, it would be an important step toward successfully concluding the broader negotiations.”

The U.S. has domestic hurdles, too. In an election year, Democrats in the Senate are reluctant to give the Obama administration the trade promotion authority it needs to complete a TPP deal. Some observers see a TPP as months – even years – away.










CancelPost Comment
MORE FROM DANIEL LOOKER more +

A Budget Dream Deferred? By: 03/17/2015 @ 4:50pm Agriculture appears to have dodged a big spending cut in the 2016 federal spending goals released…

Will Ag Go Under Budget Ax? By: 03/16/2015 @ 7:06pm What do the American Federation of Teachers, Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake, Ducks Unlimited…

Des Moines Water Works Will Go to Court By: 03/10/2015 @ 8:58pm Two months ago, the Des Moines Water Works gave 60 days' notice to 10 drainage districts in…

MEDIA CENTERmore +
This container should display a .swf file. If not, you may need to upgrade your Flash player.
Planter tips: Seeds
Agriculture.com

FREE MEMBERSHIP!

CLOSE [X]