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Grassley: Cut Japan from trade talks if ag tariffs aren't eliminated

WASHINGTON and DES MOINES, Iowa (NAFB) – In the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, sentiments toward Japan are beginning to sour.

Siding with key farm groups, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley thinks it may be time to move on without Japan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. Grassley has sided with the National Pork Producers Council, USA Rice Federation and others, in calling on the Obama Administration to conclude TPP talks without Japan unless Tokyo provides significant market access to the U.S.

Grassley and 17 other Senators urged U.S. negotiators earlier to insist Japan end tariffs on five sensitive products, including pork and beef.

“Many of us are concerned that the negotiations are not headed in the right direction,” said Grassley in a press conference Tuesday. “The administration needs to get this ship turned around, and ensure market access for all agricultural products remains on the table.”

Japan has so far been unwilling to negotiate tariffs in sensitive ag sectors; even while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe committed earlier to put everything on the table.

“Don’t you think we have a responsibility to hold Prime Minister Abe’s feet to the fire,” Grassley asked, “when he says that Japan wants in those negotiations, ‘everything’s on the table,’ and all of a sudden, things aren’t on the table? Some things aren’t; five products, for example, that we have a right to be very concerned [about], and if they don’t live up to their promises, [to] move on.”

Grassley said lawmakers are concerned the administration will let Japan off the hook, which may encourage other trade partners like Europe to not make concessions. The EU’s trade minister said recently that the European Union will not change its laws on beef hormones and the leanness additive ractopamine, used in beef and pork production. Grassley suggested it defies science.

“It’s pretty important based upon principle,” said Grassley. “You can’t compromise science when you’re negotiating international trade.”

To hear more about Grassley’s position on Japan’s agricultural tariffs in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, click here.