USDA secretary on diplomatic mission to Japan and Vietnam

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Vilsack will arrive at Niigata, Japan on Thursday 21 April for the G7 summit on food security
Vilsack will arrive at Niigata, Japan on Thursday 21 April for the G7 summit on food security
Tom Vilsack, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) secretary, has led a diplomatic mission to Japan and Vietnam to underscore the significance of bilateral trade, which includes reducing tariffs on meat.

The USDA secretary has travelled to Japan for a meeting of agricultural ministers from G7 states in the city of Niigata to discuss global food security in the face of climate change. From this meeting with ambassadors from the UK, France, Germany Canada, Italy and Japan – the G7 countries – Vilsack will fly to Vietnam to strengthen US-Vietnamese relations.

Vilsack is scheduled to link up with his political counterparts from the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade to discuss how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal can help boost US meat exports into Vietnam.

Once the ambitious TPP trade agreement has been ratified by the respective governments – which will take years – US exports of beef, pork and poultry are said to benefit significantly from a reduction in, and eventual elimination of, the high import tariffs that Vietnam imposes on US meat.

Massive export growth for US

Vietnam currently ranks as the 11th-largest export market for a range of US products, and sales in 2015 amounted to $2.3 billion, according to the USDA. The south-east Asian country is one of the fastest-growing agricultural markets for the US, as just 15 years ago, Vietnam was only the 50th-largest market.

Since 2009 – several months after US president Barack Obama came to power – US agricultural exports have increased by more than 35%.

At the G7 meeting in Japan, ambassadors from some of the world’s most powerful nations will discuss how the agriculture industry needs to improve its sustainability and resilience to address the growing threat of food insecurity. Talks will also involve setting up an open data pool for G7 nations to share information on climate smart agriculture and innovation.

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