Food producers ask Trump to encourage Asia-Pacific trade
- Ahead of President Trump's meeting Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, several U.S. food and agricultural groups sent Trump a joint letter to share their support for reducing or eliminating of tariffs and other restrictive policies on food trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
- "With more than 95 percent of our potential customers living outside our borders, expanding access to international markets is essential for our future success," the letter states. "The AsiaPacific region is one such market that is critical if we are to attain our future export potential."
- Similarly, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council also urged the President in a letter to initiate free trade agreement negotiations with nations in the Asia-Pacific.
A large number of food producers are making it known to the new president that keeping the door open for trade is vital to millions of Americans.
The worry is that Trump has already abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, claiming it hurts American workers and undercuts U.S. companies because labor is cheaper in developing countries. Many in the food industry supported the deal, which would have helped ease exports to Asian markets.
Some are concerned if some sort of deal is not reached, China will move to fill the economic vacuum and will expand its sway over Asia and beyond—the exact thing former president Obama was looking to guard against as he originally negotiated the TPP.
The U.S. International Trade Commission revealed that beef exports to TPP countries would increase by $876 million per year if such a deal were to be back on the table, and a large amount of that growth would be in trade to Japan.
While the TPP is unlikely to come back, many of these groups want him to craft some sort of trade agreement that can help open up the U.S. economic engagement with Asian countries to increase the market share across the entire region.
Trump received a similar letter from food producers and manufacturers who asked him to take care when considering how to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump has said the deal is bad for U.S. manufacturing jobs, but many in the food industry benefit from the imports and exports it allows.
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