Food, agriculture groups explore new ideas on TPP

by Matt Noltemeyer
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Dialogue for Trade writes to US Trade Representative following Trump comments.
WASHINGTON — A group representing more than 95 percent of the US farming, ranching and food processing sector has signaled its willingness to share specific ideas about the potential for the United States to re-engage with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Asia-Pacific Working Group of the US Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade sent a letter with the offer of assistance to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The impetus was President Trump’s recent comments in Davos, Switzerland, revealing a willingness to “negotiate beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries ... including the countries within TPP.”

The letter indicated that there are “compelling reasons to ensure American farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, retailers, workers and consumers benefit” from Asia-Pacific region trade opportunities.

Eleven nations have agreed to form the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP): Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and New Zealand.

The working group letter said the June implementation of CPTPP will put the United States at a substantial disadvantage, as other countries gain entry into the TPP markets at substantially lower tariffs and under preferential terms.

“Given the downturn in US farm prices and profitability that already is hurting rural America, the timing could not be worse,” the working group said. “American food and agricultural producers and companies are facing significant barriers in these markets that could be addressed within the improved rules and higher standards through re-engagement with the TPP countries.”

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