Ag groups have a message for the Japanese delegation in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations: agricultural tariff exemptions won't be tolerated.
The tariff exemptions – requested in five categories: pork and beef, dairy, sugar, wheat and barley, and rice and starch – have causing quite a stir among agricultural groups, who say Japan is backtracking on its original agreement to enter TPP negotiations.
"The Prime Minister of Japan wanted to be in TPP. Everything was going to be on the table," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday during a press call with representatives of four U.S. ag groups. "We've got to hold their feet to the fire."
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The exemptions, the ag groups explained, would keep tariffs on the products in question from going to zero. They would also undermine tariff assurances made by other participating countries, including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
"If the United States is going to open its market to competition from other TPP countries, then so should Japan," argued National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Bob McCan, who was joined on the call by representatives from the American Farm Bureau, U.S. Wheat Associates and National Pork Producers Council.
"We feel that Japan does not deserve special treatment, and it should be treated the same as all the other TPP countries," he said.
The urgency comes just a few weeks after Grassley, along with 16 other colleagues, sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, requesting assurance that the U.S. wouldn't budge on Japan's requests.