Thursday, September 26, 2019

New trade deal with Japan would lower or eliminate tariffs on $7 billion in American food and agricultural products

"President Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a trade-enhancement agreement that will lower agricultural tariffs in Japan, industrial tariffs in the U.S. and set new rules for digital trade between the world’s first- and third-largest economies," Vivian Salama and Josh Zumbrun report for The Wall Street Journal. The White House wants to implement the agreement by Jan. 1, 2020, but Japan's legislators will need to approve it first.

If implemented, the agreement could provide for farmers "a badly needed win for an industry that’s been hit hard by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China," Ryan McCrimmon reports for Politico's Morning Agriculture.

According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Japan will reduce tariffs on $2.9 billion of U.S. food and agricultural products in stages, including fresh and frozen beef and pork. Tariffs will be immediately eliminated on more than $1.3 billion of U.S. products including some berries and tree nuts, sweet corn, grain sorghum, food supplements, broccoli and prunes. Tariffs on $3 billion of products will be eliminated in stages, including wine, cheese and whey, ethanol, frozen poultry and more. If the entire agreement is implemented, more than 90% of U.S. food and agricultural exports to Japan will be either duty-free or receive preferential treatment.

The USTR also noted that U.S. farm products will have the same advantages in the Japanese market as products from countries that signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump pulled out of the TPP upon taking office. However, "for some commodities, like dairy, there would be a slight dropoff in benefits from the original Pacific Rim pact. A senior administration official said more than 80 percent of dairy products will receive the same market access as the 11-nation pact," McCrimmon writes. "Cheese and whey, two of the top U.S. dairy exports to Japan, will receive similar tariff cuts to what was on the table during TPP talks, according to the International Dairy Foods Association."

"For its part, the U.S. will reduce or eliminate tariffs on some industrial goods from Japan including certain machine tools, fasteners, steam turbines, bicycles, bike parts and musical instruments," Salama and Zumbrun report. "The U.S. will also reduce agricultural tariffs on items including certain plants and flowers, green tea, chewing gum and soy sauce."

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