U.S.-Japan trade deal lauded as a win for farmers

Beef cattle eating
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

A newly approved U.S.-Japan trade deal is being called a win for farmers. The agreement will lower tariffs for U.S. beef and pork exports and completely eliminate tariffs for other agricultural goods.

Japan’s Parliament approved the deal Dec. 4, after being agreed upon by President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September.

It’s being lauded by U.S. agricultural leaders, especially those in the beef and pork industries.

“This agreement is one of the biggest developments in the history of red meat trade, as no international market delivers greater benefits to U.S. farmers and ranchers, and to the entire U.S. supply chain, than Japan,” Dan Halstrom, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said in a statement.

The deal will go into effect on Jan. 1. Japan will reduce tariffs on beef from 38.5% to 9% over 15 years.

Additionally, Japan is eliminating tariffs on almonds, walnuts, blueberries, cranberries, sweet corn, grain sorghum, broccoli and other products. More than 80% of U.S. dairy exports to Japan will get preferential tariff treatment.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the agreement gives American farmers the same advantage as Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, countries selling in Japan. The CPTPP is the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership soon after he took office.

In return, the U.S. is eliminating or reducing tariffs for some agricultural imports from Japan, including perennial plants and cut flowers, persimmons, green tea, chewing gum and soy sauce. The U.S. is also reducing or eliminating tariffs on certain Japanese industrial goods, like bicycles, bicycle parts, steam turbines and musical instruments.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a statement that the deal is a big win for farmers as it will bring increased market access to farmers and ranchers.

Jennifer Houston, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president, called the deal a “tremendous victory” in a statement and said it levels the playing field and opens doors for U.S. beef producers to meet consumer demand in Japan.

Japan is the largest export market for U.S. beef, to the tune of about $2 billion in sales a year.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation predicts that red meat exports to Japan will rise to $5 billion by 2025 — about $2.8 billion for beef and $2 billion for pork.

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