WASHINGTON – The National Pork Producers Council is leading a coalition of agriculture groups that are threatening to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement if it includes Japan.
The coalition of 17 groups said the lack of a comprehensive offer by Japan on agricultural products is threatening to undermine the trade talks. The group detailed its concerns in a letter sent to US Trade Representative Michael Froman.
The letter states: "In previous negotiations, the United States has demanded and received from developing country trading partners, full and comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector. Yet in the TPP negotiations, Japan — a rich, developed country — is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector. We consider an agreement that includes such special treatment for Japan to be unacceptable.
"If Japan is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unraveling of the agreement, as other parties pull their offers on sensitive products, or their concessions on sensitive issues, off the table."
The coalition said that the deal should conclude without Japan if an agreement can't be reached that includes "comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector".
"If Japan continues to insist on unreasonable protections to a range of agricultural categories, we ask you to consider concluding TPP without Japan," the letter concluded. "It will ultimately be difficult for our organizations to support a TPP agreement with Japan that does not include comprehensive trade liberalization for all agricultural sectors."
TPP trade talks have been underway for three years; Japan joined the negotiations in July. TPP negotiations also include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.