Legislative Watch: Round two of trade talks with Japan; call for disaster relief; WTO rules against China; coalition says end tariffs with China.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

April 26, 2019

4 Min Read
Japan trade agreement needed now

A broad coalition of agricultural organizations and agribusinesses is calling on the administration to complete a trade agreement with Japan to help stop the loss of sales and lost market share. U.S. agriculture is finding itself at a disadvantage with Japan implementing the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the European Union-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

The coalition in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says, “In recent weeks, Japan cut tariffs for the second time on agricultural imports from the European Union and CPTPP member countries. As a result, U.S. exporters of wheat, beef, pork, dairy, wine, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, and other products are facing collapse of their Japanese market share as these lucrative sales are handed over to their competitors.”

Those signing the letter include Agri Beef Co., American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, CoBank, International Dairy Foods Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Beef Packing Co., National Corn Growers Association, North American Meat Institute, Smithfield Foods, Superior Farms, Tyson Foods, U.S. Apple Association, U.S. Grains Council and USA Rice. 

The United States and Japan started another round of trade discussions Thursday in Washington, D.C. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to meet with President Trump today at the White House.

Ag groups and banks call for disaster relief
A group of 135 national and state agricultural organizations and banks are calling on Congress to immediately pass a disaster relief bill. The organizations remind Congress of the economic effects the 2018 and 2019 hurricanes, fires, floods, drought and other natural disasters have had on producers throughout the United States.

The group says in a letter to the Congressional leadership, “On behalf of the thousands of impacted farm families, we cannot overstate how critical and time-sensitive it is to deliver on the commitments made last year to enact disaster relief for the farmers, ranchers and rural communities impacted by these catastrophic weather events. For many of the impacted regions, planting season is here and there is no more time for delays.”

Those signing the letter include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, CoBank, Farm Credit Council, Independent Community Bankers of America and the National Milk Producers Federation.

WTO rules against China on grain tariff-rate quotas
A World Trade Organization panel ruled in favor of the United States in its claim that China has not administered its use of tariff-rate quotas on U.S. corn, wheat and rice consistent with its WTO obligations. According to USDA, China’s TRQ administration is “not transparent, predicable or fair, and it ultimately inhibits TRQs from filling, denying U.S. farmers access to China’s market for grain.” 

The U.S. Wheat Associates says, “With these decisions, we call on the Chinese government to come into compliance with the rules it accepted when it joined the WTO. The world now sees that their policies stifle market-driven wheat trade, block export opportunities and force private sector buyers and consumers to pay more than they should for milling wheat and wheat-based foods.”

Earlier this year, the WTO ruled against China’s domestic support for grains. 

Coalition calls for end of tariffs with China
A coalition of various U.S. industries is calling on President Trump to end the tariffs as part of any trade deal with China. The “Americans for Free Trade” is asking for the “full and immediate removal of all recently imposed tariffs, including U.S. tariffs and China’s retaliatory tariffs.” The coalition is also asking for an economic assessment that will examine the costs of tariffs for American businesses and consumers. 

In a letter to the President, the coalition says, “American businesses and farmers bearing the burden of the trade war have been told repeatedly by your administration that they must endure ‘short-term pain for long-term gain.’ They were promised that tariffs were merely a means to an end, and that all this damage would be worth it. A deal that fails to lift tariffs would represent a broken promise to these hardworking Americans.”

Those signing the letter include the American Bakers Association, American Petroleum Institute, Beer Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Motorcycle Industry Council, National Association of Home Builders, The Fertilizer Institute and U.S.-China Business Council. 

The next round of negotiations between the United States and China will begin on April 30 in Beijing with a second round in Washington, D.C., on May 8. The goal is to complete a trade deal in late May or early June. 

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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