US Farmers Fear Losses in the Japanese Market

Washington, D.C.—U.S. farmers and ranchers will face losses in the Japanese market, thanks to the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the European Union-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EUJEPA), according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The 11-member TPP will begin on December 30, at which point Tokyo will begin cutting tariffs and easing quotas on products sold by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile, America’s biggest competitors in the agricultural industry, according to the WSJ.

The WSJ reports that President Trump exited the TPP last year, saying that the agreement would have loosened restrictions on U.S. imports of autos and auto parts, intensifying competition with low-wage Asian nations and harming American manufacturers and workers.

On February 1, Tokyo will implement the EUJEPA, which will offer similar tariff breaks for 28 other countries, including France, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands.

The WSJ cites the Trump administration’s Agriculture Department’s May report as saying that this push for free trade “threatens to cut into U.S. market share and depress profits for U.S. agricultural exporters by granting preferential access to international competitors.”

Vince Peterson, head of U.S. Wheat Associates, said, “Japan is our largest, most reliable, and valuable market,” according to the WSJ, which reported that Japan buys about half its imported wheat from Americans.

In a news release from U.S. Wheat Associates, Peterson said, “U.S. wheat farmers and Japan’s flour milling industry hope that we can maintain provisional equivalence for U.S. wheat imports while our two countries conduct ongoing, good faith negotiations. And we urge the Administration to act quickly to save our market in Japan.”

The U.S. Meat Export Federation estimated that Japan’s new trade agreements will cause annual losses in beef and pork exports of more than $1 billion within five years, according to the WSJ.

The WSJ further reports that negotiations between the Trump Administration and Japan, looking to secure a free-trade agreement for the U.S., are not scheduled to start for weeks.