Ag coalition writes Trump on importance of Asia
With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe coming to visit President Donald Trump, a large coalition of farm and agribusiness groups have written to urge the president to use portions of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership in his future trade negotiations.
U.S. agriculture was the most outspoken backer of the TPP, but Trump has withdrawn U.S. participation in the agreement.
“We hope your administration will create such opportunities for our sector by deepening U.S. economic engagement in this critical region while responding to the Asia-only regional trade agreements being negotiated by our foreign competitors,” the letter said.
“While many in our sector strongly supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we hope future agreements build upon the valuable aspects of that agreement to increase our market access in the Asia-Pacific. We welcome an opportunity to work with your administration to ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers, processors and food companies do not fall behind our foreign peers in this vitally important economic region.”
The letter continues, “Economic growth in America’s heartland is inextricably linked to the long-established productivity of U.S. food and agriculture — an industry that is a true American success story.
“The food and agricultural industry from farm to fork employs more than 15 million Americans. The U.S. food and beverage industry alone represents 12 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs, making it the largest employer in the manufacturing sector. Our industry has improved the nutrition and economic wellbeing of generations of American families and is one of our nation’s most efficient and competitive industries.”
The coalition, which is called the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, is organized by the North American Meat Institute and the U.S. Grains Council. The group also sent reporters a link to a chart on the evolution of U.S. agricultural exports published by the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service.
Separately, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council wrote Trump to urge him to use Abe’s visit to “initiate free trade agreement negotiations with nations in the Asia-Pacific region beginning with Japan.”
“We realize that our competitors are doing their best to secure preferential trade agreements in many of these markets, and we are concerned that if we do not act soon, we will fall further behind our competitors in these important markets. It is out of this sense of urgency that we respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss our trade priorities and provide you with our recommendations,” the leaders of NCBA and NPPC wrote.
The National Farmers Union, which did not sign the letter and opposed the TPP, said that the Commerce Department’s announcement that the United States’ trade deficit grew to $502 billion in 2016, marking its highest level in four years, created a drag on the United States economy.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said. “NFU urges the Trump administration to reset the nation’s trade agenda in a manner that addresses the massive trade deficit, expands the agricultural trade surplus and protects U.S. sovereignty, while maintaining positive relationships with our trading partners.” ❖