Phil Seng Gets Real About TPP - Ship Has Sailed, But With Hard Work US Beef Can Still CompeteTue, 06 Mar 2018 11:37:30 CST
During the 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn had the chance to speak with Phil Seng, former president and chief executive officer for the US Meat Export Federation. Although he is now retired, Seng still engages in contract work from time to time with the USMEF. With hints from the White House in recent days about President Donald Trump’s softening on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that he withdrew from to the dismay of those in agriculture after coming into office, Seng offered his perspective on what rejoining TPP might mean for the beef industry and just how realistic accomplishing that goal might actually be. The word is that Trump might consider rejoining the pact - if the terms were tweaked to benefit the US a bit more. With the deal basically done, though, and a signing ceremony already scheduled for later this week, Seng says playing catch-up at this point may prove impossible.
“Frankly, TPP was ratified on December 9th of 2016 in Japan. As far as the TPP covenants if you will. Now you have 11 countries that are going forward to ratify this which will be done on March 8th of this year, which is very soon,” Seng said. “So, it’s going to be very difficult, because to change thing od any consequence all 11 of these countries would have to vote to change things. I just don’t see that coming because politically, it was so arduous to get to where they are now, to go back and change this. It’s just probably not going to be realistic.”
Seng believes in being realistic when it comes to trade on what can actually be achieved. Given the complexity of the issue, he says the best thing for the industry right now, is for the US to just rejoin TPP as it exists now. If not, though, the good news is that the US is not completely out of these markets altogether. However, Seng says we will have to work very hard to stay relevant in these countries.
“We have to continue to work with our valued buyers in these markets,” he said. “We have partners we’ve worked with for 30 years, so they know the product. But, again, the competition is very intense. So, what we have to do and all we really can do is rely on doing more promotion and activities to reassure them of our commitment.”
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