NCBA's Kevin Kester Lights Fire Under USTR to Get US - Japan Trade Deal Negotiations UnderwayTue, 11 Dec 2018 11:17:02 CST
A host of agricultural groups testified recently before the US Special Trade Representative’s Office, which is seeking industry input on a soon to happen US-Japanese negotiation that will hopefully result in a bilateral trade agreement between the two nations. President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Kevin Kester of California was one of those who testified, on behalf of the cattle industry. In a recent conversation with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, he remarked that getting a deal done with Japan as expeditiously as possible, is of the greatest importance to cattle producers who will face a significant disadvantage once the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Pact is finally ratified.
“It is extremely important because Japan is the No. 1 market for US beef overseas,” Kester said. “This year in 2018, we’re probably going to go a little over $2 billion of US beef into Japan. So, the US government and the government of Japan are getting ready to start formal negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement.”
Initially, the US had been a part of the TPP, but withdrew once the Trump Administration took over. The framework of that agreement related to the beef sector, which had been built by US negotiators prior to their withdrawal, were and still are quite favorable terms. Now that the US is no longer a part of that pact, Kester says the other member countries, some of which are major US competitors, will now solely reap the benefits of those terms - putting US beef producers at a concerning disadvantage if a bilateral agreement is not soon negotiated. At present, foreign beef coming into Japan is subject to a 38.5 percent tariff rate. Once the TPP goes into effect, that rate will drop to just over 26 percent by April 2019 and then each year will decrease by roughly two percentage points until it reaches only 9 percent. Unless a bilateral agreement is made between the US and Japan, the US will be stuck at the original 38.5 percent. According to Kester, a delay in approving these negotiations could potentially cost the cattle industry hundreds of millions of dollars. He says the USTR’s Office is well-aware of this distressing prospect.
“There is no doubt that the US Trade Representative’s Office fully understands the importance and the pitfalls if we don’t do something as quickly as possible in negotiations,” Kester remarked. “So, we will engage with our negotiators on this trade deal with Japan and try to get it across the finish line just a quick as humanly possible.”
Listen to Kester and Hays discuss the prospects of a bilateral US-Japan trade deal, on today’s Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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