WASHINGTON – A coalition of 75 food and agricultural organizations and companies urged United States officials to bring Japan into Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.

TPP negotiations currently include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam. Japan recently announced its intention to join the negotiations. In a letter to President Obama, the coalition argued that welcoming Japan to join the talks will send a strong message to other nations that “efforts to negotiate more open and transparent regional trading arrangements will continue, even as multilateral efforts to do so are stymied.”

“The addition of Japan to the negotiations will exponentially increase the importance of the TPP to US farmers and ranchers, processors and exporters as well as other sectors of the US economy,” the coalition said. “Furthermore, it will spur interest in the TPP among other countries in Asia and Latin America.”

Japan’s economy ranks behind China’s in the region, and it is fourth largest agricultural export market for the US despite substantial import barriers. US food and agricultural exports to Japan in 2012 totaled $13.5 billion.

“Japan’s entry into the TPP as a full partner greatly enhances the overall value of this momentous regional free trade agreement,” the coalition said.