U.S. and Japan Continue Discussions on Agricultural Market Access
USTR announced March 12 that Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler and Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oe held two days of negotiations on TPP market access issues that focused on the treatment of agricultural products. USTR characterized the progress achieved during the meetings as “limited” and noted that “significant gaps remain.” Working-level meetings were scheduled to continue through March 14. U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently declared that they would continue to work with Canada and Japan on their TPP agricultural market access offers. The two officials stressed that progress is needed to conclude the agreement, and that it is necessary for both Canada and Japan to be more forthcoming in the market access negotiations.
Meanwhile, press reports indicate that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and several domestic agricultural groups recently voiced strong opposition to Japan’s current position in the TPP talks. In essence, the groups believe that trade in the five agricultural products that Japan is seeking to exclude from the negotiations – beef and pork, dairy, sugar, rice, and wheat and barley - must be liberalized. Japanese officials are reportedly facing strong pressure from domestic agricultural interests to keep protections on these products in place.