By David B. Strickland
Poultry Times staff
WASHINGTON — For approximately a year, the Trump administration has been working to negotiate a trade agreement between the United States and Japan. President Donald Trump notified Congress of this intention last October.
“As stated in that notification and subsequent consultations with the Congress, my administration proposed pursuing negotiations with Japan in stages,” Trump said in a statement. “I am pleased to report that my administration has reached an initial trade agreement regarding tariff barriers with Japan and I intend to enter into the agreement in the coming weeks.”
It’s been reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be in New York later in September for the United Nations General Assembly, and the trade deal could potentially be signed at this time.
Trump also mentioned an executive agreement with Japan focusing on digital trade.
“My administration looks forward to continued collaboration with the Congress on further negotiations with Japan to achieve a comprehensive trade agreement that results in more fair and reciprocal trade between the United States and Japan,” Trump added.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “Japan is a significant market for United States agriculture exports, making today a good day for American agriculture. By removing existing barriers for our products, we will be able to sell more to the Japanese markets. At the same time we will be able to close gaps to better allow us to compete on level playing field with our competitors.”
The office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has noted that United States goods and services trade with Japan totaled approximately $283.6 billion in 2017 — encompassing $114 billion in exports and $169.5 billion in imports.
Poultry industry associations have been expressing their approval of a Japanese trade deal, as it will bring great benefit to the nation’s poultry and egg businesses.
In a joint statement, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation and United Egg Producers, said, “Frozen chicken, turkey and processed egg products will receive favorable tariff reductions enabling our products to compete more effectively with those of countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“While this is just the first stage of a bilateral agreement, it 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 U.S. poultry and egg products.”
The groups also noted that Japan is the second-largest market for U.S. turkey exports, a top market for exports of U.S. egg products, and a “very promising market for U.S. chicken companies that are willing to provide the specific chicken cuts that Japanese buyers are seeking.”
In regard to other meat product exports, the North American Meat Institute noted that even with high tariffs, the United States exported more than $3.6 billion of beef and pork to Japan last year.
“The Meat Institute applauds the Trump administration for negotiating better access to a critical and growing market for American beef and pork,” said Julie Anna Potts, NAMI CEO. “The U.S. will be better able to compete with the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership nations and the European Union for valuable market share.”
Feed and grain associations are also touting the prospect of a new trade deal with Japan.
Joel G. Newman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association, said, “AFIA is pleased the administration has reached an initial trade agreement on tariff barriers with Japan and intends to enter into the agreement in the coming weeks. We are hopeful this agreement will show progress in bringing the U.S. animal food industry closer to the level of tariff treatment Japan affords our competitors in the recently implemented Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. We are eager to review the final text and for further developments in subsequent bilateral negotiations with Japan.”
AFIA also added that Japan is the third-largest export market (behind Canada and Mexico) for U.S. feed, feed ingredients and pet food products, with a value of about $986 million in 2018.
“This is very encouraging news,” said Lynn Chrisp, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “Japan is the second-largest purchaser of U.S. corn and has been an important, long-standing trading partner with America’s corn farmers. We hope the next stages of negotiations are successful in enhancing rules of trade and building on this strong relationship.”
Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association, added that, “We have repeatedly stressed this past year during the trade war with China that we would like the administration to work hard on existing and new free trade agreements, so we are definitely pleased to hear that the president and his team have heard ASA and other farm groups by working on this deal.
“Along with more stability for soybean exports to Japan, this FTA also brings potential to increase pork and beef exports; a value-add opportunity for soybeans and a way to create more jobs here in the U.S.”