In a tough week for President Trump, he can seek solace in the US meat industry which has moved to praise the agreement with Japan.
Under the US-Japan Trade Agreement, Japan has committed to provide substantial market access to American food and agricultural products by eliminating tariffs, enacting meaningful tariff reductions, or allowing a specific quantity of imports at a low duty (generally zero). Importantly for US producers, the tariff treatment for the products covered in this agreement will match the tariffs that Japan provides preferentially to countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP-TPP) agreement.
US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement regarding the signing of the new United States-Japan Trade Agreement:
“This agreement between the United States and Japan is a better deal for the entire US economy, but is a particularly big win for our farmers and ranchers. When I visited Japan in May for the G20, I made it clear that the US is Japan’s best customer and we felt that relationship was not reciprocal. This agreement helps level the playing field. I thank President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer for delivering on their promise to open markets around the world for America’s farmers and ranchers.”
US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) president and CEO Dan Halstrom agreed the deal would create a level playing field.
“With Japan being the largest value destination for US pork and beef exports (combined export value in 2018 was $3.7bn), there is no market more critical to the profitability and prosperity of the US red meat industry. It is therefore imperative that we achieve a level playing field for US pork and beef in Japan, so that the US industry can further expand its customer base in this increasingly competitive market. The announcement is not only excellent news for US farmers and ranchers, but also for Japanese consumers who will have greater access to US pork and beef products.”
Meat Institute CEO Julie Anna Potts said it would help US producers compete against CP-TPP members but urged action on the trade deal with Canada and Mexico. “The US will now be better positioned to compete with countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the European Union for valuable market share. We also continue to urge Congress to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and to encourage the Administration to further strengthen negotiations with China and the EU to provide additional certainty for American consumers, workers and meat and poultry processors and producers.”
The individual meat category trade bodies echoed their praise for the agreement.
National Pork Producers Council president David Herring and president-elect Howard ‘A.V.’ Roth joined President Trump for the signing of the agreement in New York during the United Nations General Assembly meeting.
“We’ve seen market share declines in Japan, historically our largest value export market, since the start of the year when international competitors gained more favorable access through new trade agreements. Once implemented, the agreement signed today puts US pork back on a level playing field with our competitors in Japan.”
Dr. Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, estimates exports to Japan could grow from $1.6bn in 2018 to more than $2.2bn over the next 15 years under market access terms included in the agreement.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) president Jennifer Houston said: “For the past few years, U.S. beef producers have benefitted greatly from growing demand for US beef in Japan. While Japanese consumers enjoy high quality US beef, they unfortunately pay a higher price for US beef due to the massive 38.5 percent tariff. Removing that tariff allows more Japanese consumers to enjoy more US beef at a more competitive price. This announcement is welcome news for American families who produce US. beef and Japanese families who purchase it.”
She praised the Trump administration for prioritizing trade negotiations with Japan. “President Trump answered the call and took on the difficult task of expanding access to Japan for US beef exports. America’s ranchers are incredibly thankful for the leadership of President Trump and the yeoman’s work of Ambassador Lighthizer and his team whose diligent work and tough negotiating will benefit generations of US beef producers.”
Under the agreement, frozen US poultry will also be among the agricultural products that will benefit from staged tariff elimination.
According to the USDA, US chicken exports to Japan in 2018 were 19,265 metric tons valued at $32.5m.
“Under the US-Japan Trade Agreement, frozen chicken products will receive favorable tariff reductions enabling our products to compete more effectively with those countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said National Chicken Council president Mike Brown. “While final details regarding agriculture still need to be worked out, today’s signing is welcome news and we would like to thank President Trump, Secretary Perdue and Secretary Lighthizer for their work negotiating trade deals that stand to benefit US chicken.”