Following the latest round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which concluded in Singapore last week, the Prime Minister of Japan officially announced his country's interest in joining the trade talks. IDFA and other business organizations welcome Japan's participation, likely to come later this year, as long as the Japanese government agrees to uphold the common vision of other TPP participants to establish a comprehensive agreement.
“The addition of Japan greatly expands the scope of the TPP, and that market is a significant opportunity for U.S. dairy exports,” said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president.
Japan is the fourth-largest trading partner of the United States and has the third-largest economy in the world. U.S. dairy shipments grew by 13 percent to reach $284 million in 2012, making Japan the fifth largest market for dairy, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
U.S. Business Coalition for TPP
The U.S. Business Coalition for TPP, of which IDFA is a member, issued a statement Friday, saying Japan's participation would enhance the potential impact of the partnership. The agreement's Asia-Pacific orientation make it an important vehicle for opening markets and establishing a fair and efficient system of international trade for dairy products.
Some, however, have expressed concern that Japan may not be willing to make necessary concessions, such as loosening market access, changing its quota system and addressing non-tariff concerns. Just yesterday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured Japan's Parliament members that he wouldn't ignore the country's agricultural interests during the TPP negotiations, according to a United Press International report.
Prior to Japan's official announcement on Friday, more than 30 senators had sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Agriculture, urging U.S. negotiators to make dairy issues a priority during the TPP talks. They urged USTR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to avoid trade restrictions that could hinder competition.
The United States has been engaged with Japan in bilateral TPP consultations since early last year. Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said, "While we continue to make progress in these consultations, important work remains to be done. We will continue to consult with Congress and stakeholders as we proceed."
In addition to the United States, the TPP participants are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Thailand, currently the 14th largest export market for the United States, has also expressed interest in joining the talks.
The next round of TPP negotiations will be held in Lima, Peru, May 15-24.
For more information, contact Hough at firstname.lastname@example.org.