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Japan pushes trade deal through; U.S. red meat to get improved access

The United States is preparing for the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement to go into effect on Jan. 1. 

On Wednesday, Japan's Diet, the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament, approved the recently-signed U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement. Key provisions of the agreement, which was approved by Japan's Lower House on Nov. 19, were released in October by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

"I commend Japan's quick action to approve these important trade agreements between our two nations, which are the world's first and third largest economies. We expect the president to sign the implementing proclamation for the United States next week," says U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. "The positive results the United States and Japan will gain from these agreements would not be possible without the strong leadership of President Trump and Prime Minister Abe. Now, U.S. farmers and ranchers will have significantly improved access to Japan's market, and America's leadership in the growing digital economy will continue to flourish to the benefit of all our workers."

Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, estimates pork exports to Japan could grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to more than $2.2 billion over the next 15 years under market access terms included in the agreement.

In September when President Trump and Japanese Prime Minster Abe signed the trade agreement, David Herring, National Pork Producers Council president, said he was honored to represent U.S. pork producers at the signing ceremony of the agreement, that would once again allow U.S. pork producers to compete on a level playing field in Japan. 

"We've seen market share declines in Japan, historically our largest value export market, since the start of the year when international competitors gained more favorable access through new trade agreements," Herring says. "Once implemented, the agreement signed today puts U.S. pork back on a level playing field with our competitors in Japan."

Following Japan's Diet approval, U.S. Meat Export Federation president and CEO Dan Halstrom issued a statement, saying the U.S. beef and pork industries look forward to expanded opportunities in Japan, which is already the largest value destination for U.S. pork and beef exports (combined export value in 2018 was $3.7 billion).

"This agreement is one of the biggest developments in the history of red meat trade, as no international market delivers greater benefits to U.S. farmers and ranchers, and to the entire U.S. supply chain, than Japan," Halstrom says. "USMEF thanks President Trump, USTR and USDA for prioritizing and securing this agreement, which is a major breakthrough for U.S. agriculture. We also extend our appreciation to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration for taking unprecedented steps to expand market access for U.S. red meat. In addition to the benefits provided to the U.S. industry, Japanese consumers will now enjoy more affordable access to a wider range of U.S. products."

The United States is preparing for the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement to go into effect on Jan. 1. As agreed by President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, both governments will begin consultations early next year in order to enter into further negotiations on a broader trade agreement.

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