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Time is not America’s pig farmers’ friend in pork trade game

Trans-Pacific Partnership gains new name; another country walks out

Canada walked out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the last day of negotiations over the weekend. According to a media outlet, the recent debate for the Asia-Pacific deal among the remaining 11 countries was dramatic. 

After Canada is a no-show for the signing ceremony, an official summed up the room’s attitude by telling Australia’s ABC News that “the Canadians screwed everybody.”

So, basically, two of the three North America trade partners dared to take a stand. President Donald Trump warned he was going to walk away from TPP and he did. Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he was not going to be hurried into a trade deal for the sake of agreement.

“I wasn’t going to be rushed into a deal that was not yet in the best interest of Canadians. That is what I’ve been saying at least for a week, and I’ve been saying it around TPP12 for years now, and that position continues to hold,” Trudeau tells CBS Radio-Canada.

So, as it stands 10 countries — Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — agreed on core elements of pact newly named “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,” or CPTPP, according to an official statement released Saturday.

The free trade deal will eliminate tariffs on products with a traded total more than $350 billion last year. The CPTPP will take effect 60 days after six of the 11 member countries ratify the deal. While the core elements of the original TPP are included, but shortlist of rules spanning 20 categories was suspended.

In announcing the CPTPP deal on Saturday, Japan's TPP minister Toshimitsu Motegi says the agreement “sends a very strong message to the United States and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” reports media outlets.

Meanwhile, President Trump wraps up his trip to Asia and stands firm that the United States will not participate in large trade agreements that tie the country’s hands. Under his leadership, the United States will continue to pursue bilateral free trade agreements.

Only time will tell if bilateral agreements are right for American agriculture and more importantly the meat industry. Yet, time is the exact thing that can stifle the U.S. pork exports and future growth, especially with Japan being the No. 1 pork customer in terms of value. Supply the world with its favorite animal protein — pork — is an aggressive game. While the record shows U.S. pork is a safe, consistent quality product, the lack of free trade agreements could just knock America’s pig farmers out of the game.

Given that the European Union and Japan have already reached an agreement in principle on a trade pact, CPTTP had its official signing ceremony and NAFTA revamping is in shaky territory, the reality for the U.S. swine business is two large markets — Japan and Mexico — could turn to other countries for its pork. The clock is running down for U.S. pork. President Trump, now is the time for you to show the world the art of making a deal. 

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