DES MOINES, Iowa – The Trans-Pacific Partnership could be one of the biggest agricultural success stories in recent memory, or it could set a disastrous precedent for agriculture in future trade deals.
That’s according to International Affairs Vice President and Counsel Nick Giordano with the National Pork Producers’ Council. He says in most free trade agreements all pork tariffs are eliminated, but in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Japan wants them retained, and not just on pork, but several other so-called sensitive products, including beef and wheat.
Japan joined the negotiating table of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership talks last March. In February of 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed with President Barack Obama that elimination of all tariffs on all products was not a precondition for joining the talks, even though that is one of the goals of the current negotiations.
“Prime Minister Abe needs to do what every other country, including the U.S., is prepared to do. And that’s [to] eliminate tariffs on virtually all products,” says Giordano. He doubts the deal has any legs in Washington.
“If this deal were to becoming the deal and go to Congress, forget it. There’s a lot of heartburn among members that really count, and who are in leadership on trade.” Giordano says one such member is California Republican Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Trade. “He’s a very important person in the U.S. Congress on trade,” explains Giordano. “He’s very, very unhappy. He had a long dicussion [two weeks ago] with Ambassador Froman. He made comments, which are in the Congressional Record, and basically, in a nutshell, he said ‘We need a lot more from Japan. Japan’s got to be eliminating tariffs on virtually all products, just like the U.S. and other countries are prepared to do, or we’re not going to support this deal.”