WASHINGTON – Seven former United States secretaries of agriculture, both Democrats and Republicans, signed a letter to Congress urging passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to help strengthen export markets for US agricultural products in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Canada.

“TPP, a high-standard, 12-country agreement, represents this nation’s ‘rebalance toward Asia,’ which fits American agriculture perfectly,” the letter said. “That’s where populations are increasing, as is purchasing power, and that’s what dramatically enhances the demand for our food.”

The agriculture secretaries emphasized the trade agreement will allow the United States to sell greater amounts of farm products to Japan — a long-standing goal of US agriculture policy — and also will be able to serve markets in growing economies such as Vietnam and Malaysia.

The letter emphasized that TPP offers beneficial “rules of the road” for trade among the United States and other participating countries. Also, the letter noted TPP may expand to include additional nations willing to meet the high standards of the agreement, potentially increasing agricultural exports beyond those in the original agreement. Being among the countries included in the TPP also makes trade among the participants inherently easier and less costly than it would otherwise be, the letter said.

The agriculture secretaries also highlighted non-economic benefits of TPP.

“It will solidify our working relationship with the participating Asian (and South American) countries, and that has both foreign policy and national security implications,” the letter said.

“TPP represents solid, committed leadership by the United States in international trade, and in one of the most dynamic, fastest-growing regions of the world,” the former agriculture secretaries noted.

“For American agriculture there is no downside to TPP, and there is substantial upside,” the letter concluded.