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New US-Japan trade agreement may provide a boost for US pork producers

The National Pork Producers Council is confident a new trade deal reached by the United States and Japan will put American pork producers back on a level playing field with their international competitors in the Japanese market.

28 August 2019, at 10:26am

Early this week, at the G7 Summit in France, US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced the two nationals have reached a new free trade agreement.

Speaking to Farmscape, Maria Zieba, the Director of International Affairs for the National Pork Producers Council, says, once implemented, the agreement will restore the US pork sector's competitive position in Japan, a market that last year accounted for 25 percent of all US pork exports.

"We are ecstatic that the US and Japan have announced an agreement, a deal for agriculture specifically on pork," Zieba said, "Japan is our largest export market in terms of value."

"In 2018 we exported 1.6 billion dollars of pork and pork products to that market and, over the last few years, because we aren't part of a trade agreement with the Japanese and our competitors are, we've seen that those exports have declined.

"We have faced tremendous headwinds and disadvantage because our biggest competitors have trade agreements with the Japanese that lower the tariffs or the taxes on their products.

"We were paying taxes into the market and it didn't look like we were anywhere close to having a deal similar to the Europeans, Canadians, Mexicans and Chileans, those countries that are part of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"For us it meant a tremendous disadvantage because the Japanese customers were starting to buy from other countries aside from the US."

Zieba acknowledges the agreement still needs to be signed by President Trump and Prime Minister Abe and ratified by the two governments but, if things move quickly, it could be in place by January, 2020.