AMERICAN cattle producers have expressed concern that the finalisation of Trans-Pacific Partnership talks without the United States represents a missed opportunity for American beef to gain access to foreign markets.
Responding to last week’s news reports that 11 nations, including Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand, have finalised a revised version of the TPP without the US, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has voiced concern that US President Donald Trump‘s earlier rejection of US involvement in the TPP has given its competitors an advantage in key export markets.
“Withdrawing from TPP was a missed opportunity for the United States to gain greater access to some of the world’s most vibrant and growing markets,”NCBA trade and market access spokesman Kent Bacus said in a statement.
“As we now enter a pivotal round of NAFTA negotiations, the last thing we need is to take a step backwards in our relationships with Canada and Mexico.
“We encourage negotiators in Montreal to continue building on the progress made in previous rounds so the United States can focus on tearing down trade barriers in Asia and around the world.”
American grain growers have expressed similar concerns. The announcement that the 11 remaining TPP members had concluded talks on a revised deal without the US sent a discouraging signal to America’s long-time wheat importing customers in Japan, US Wheat Associates director of policy Ben Conner said.
Japan imports an average of 3.1 million metric tons of U.S. wheat every year, according to the USW. After full implementation of the new TPP, Japan’s import tariffs on Canadian and Australian wheat would drop by about $65 per ton.
“That would put U.S. wheat producers at a total price disadvantage of more than $200 million per year from TPP alone,” Mr Conner said.
“As the agricultural community warned when the President made the announcement, withdrawing from TPP was shortsighted and unnecessary, and now US wheat farmers could take the hit.”
America’s National Association of Wheat Growers president Gordon Stoner, a wheat farmer from Outlook, Montana, said the announcement should serve as a rallying cry for farmers, ranchers and dairy producers calling for the new trade deals they were promised when the President walked away from TPP.
“The heat needs to be turned up on the administration and on trade negotiations with Japan. An already stressed agriculture sector needs the benefit of free and fair trade now.”
There are signs Mr Trump could be rethinking his abandonment of the TPP, making a surprise announcement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the US would reconsider joining the TPP if the US could secure a ‘substantially better’ deal.
However, in the wake of those comments, the Australian newspaper reported this morning that the Japanese government has ruled out the possibility of renegotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership to facilitate the US rejoining the agreement.
Spokesperson Yasutoshi Nishimura said if the US wanted to join, it would not mean a new renegotiation.
The remaining 11 countries in the agreement – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – are set to sign the reviewed version at a meeting in Chile on March 8.
US beef incurs a 38.5 per cent tariff in Japan.
Australian beef incurs tariffs of 29.9pc (chilled beef) and 27.2pc (frozen beef). Above 135,000t chilled and 200,000t frozen, Australian beef attracts a safeguard tariff of 38.5pc.
Under Australia’s existing trade agreement with Japan, tariffs on Australia’s beef exports to Japan were scheduled to decline to 23.5pc (chilled) and 19.5pc (frozen) from 2028 onwards. But under the TPP that would reduce to just 9pc on both frozen and chilled over the same 15-year time-schedule. In addition, processed red meat import tariffs (currently ranging from 6pc to 50pc, depending on the product) will be eliminated within 15 years; and the majority of offal tariffs will be eliminated within 10-15 years.