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U.S. Trade Representative Reports Limited Progress on TPP Talks with Japan

U.S. Trade Representative Reports Limited Progress on TPP Talks with Japan

National Pork Producers Council expresses disappointment in Japanese-U.S. talks

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative this week said talks with Japanese Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership have ended with few resolutions on "key outstanding issues."

A statement from the USTR said while constructive discussions were held over the weekend, talks on Tuesday and Wednesday indicated the trade groups would be unable to make further progress, though the U.S. "Continues to demonstrate a commitment to the level of ambition that all TPP countries agreed to attain when they entered negotiations."

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks as he participates in a discussion to promote the United States as the premier destination for business investment last year in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The TPP is a multi-national proposition that includes involvement from the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Related: TPP Wrangling Continues as 140 Legislators Say 'No Deal' with Japan

While talks are progressing economic issues, labor, intellectual property and other issues, negotiations with Japan on the TPP have been sluggish from the agricultural point of view as the country has demanded tariff exemptions on some agricultural products.

Ag groups have reiterated confidence in the benefits of a TPP deal, though they have maintained throughout negotiations that the U.S. should be firm in its demand that Japan and other countries involved maintain fair trade rules for agricultural products.

While Japan demands exemptions for pork, dairy, beef, wheat, barley, sugar and rice, the National Pork Producers Council on Thursday said approving the country's demands would "represent a radical departure from past U.S. trade policy, which has held to the principle that free trade agreements must cover virtually all trade between the parties."

Pork never has been excluded from tariff elimination in a U.S. free trade agreement, NPPC said.

Related: Hold Japan’s Feet To The Fire On TPP

Submitting to Japan's demands would not only create a host of other problems, including sending a signal to other countries that exemptions will be allowed, NPPC said it could also put future trade agreements, like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with EU, in jeopardy.

In addition, the NPPC said creating a precedent in the TPP that shelters the agriculture sector from competition and, therefore, puts upward pressure on global food prices has national security implications.

"The correlation between political unrest and food prices is axiomatic," the statement said. "The protectionist farmers in Japan are not thinking about the global security implications of adding 3 billion people to the world’s population in the next 30 years. But someone better be thinking about this."

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