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Monday, September 29, 2014

U.S.-Japan Trade Talks Stumble

The latest round of trade talks between the United States and Japan ended without an agreement as market access for agricultural products including pork and beef remained a key stumbling block.

Japan’s Economy Minister Amari Akira (surname first) and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman met for two days in Washington this week for bilateral negotiations as part of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that involves 12 countries.

The U.S. National Pork Producers Council said the proposed agreement should not create a precedent that shelters agriculture from competition and noted the U.S. pork industry has benefited greatly from prior trade pacts.

The pork group issued a lengthy statement calling for the talks to continue without Japan until it is ready to make progress.

U.S. pork exports have quadrupled since 2000 as a result, the group noted.

“The TPP could result in even greater gains for U.S. pork, but Japan is the key,” it said.

After failing to make progress, both sides will consider next steps following consultations in both capitals,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said.

Japan wants tariffs allowed on rice, wheat, beef, pork, sugar and dairy products, according to media reports.

Washington had hoped to achieve a deal before year-end.

Andrew Joseph

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