WASHINGTON – The National Pork Producers Council is focusing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement after Congress introduced legislation to grant President Obama Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), an important step toward a TPP deal.

NPPC remains concerned that Japan is demanding “special treatment” for its agriculture sector. The organization acknowledged that passage of a TPA is important to achieving a successful TPP agreement approved, NPPC and other agriculture groups have threatened to oppose the trade agreement if Japan refuses to eliminate tariffs in its agriculture sector.

“Getting TPA introduced and approved is an important step in the trade process, and we are supportive,” said Randy Spronk, NPPC president and a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., “but our main focus will be making sure Japan eliminates farm tariffs at least as quickly as was done by South Korea in its trade deal with the US.

“We will oppose a TPP agreement in which tariffs on pork and other farm products are not quickly eliminated.”

The NPPC-led coalition of 17 groups detailed its concerns in a letter sent in December to US Trade Representative Michael Froman. The group noted that if Japan is allowed to claim exemptions to its agriculture sector, other TPP countries would likely make similar demands, establishing a disadvantageous precedent for future trade agreements.

The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) also expressed support of the TPA. Philip Seng, president and CEO of USMEF, said “Our trading partners need to know that once these agreements are negotiated, they are not going to be changed as they go through the approval process in Congress. The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act introduced this week will ensure that Congress continues to have a strong voice on trade while giving the administration the support it needs to achieve the best possible outcome for the US red meat industry from the TPP and TTIP negotiations.”