U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman was in Iowa over the weekend. He stopped at the Iowa State Fair to talk trade with cattle producers. Ambassador Froman says he’s cautiously optimistic about the TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership, and about getting Japan to drop its tariffs to zero, although he is unsure about a specific timeline.
“We’re deeply engaged with them on an ongoing basis,” Froman says. “We have reached an agreement with them that there would be no product area exclusions, so everything’s on the table, all product areas are to be covered and that’s a big deal.” The TPP is a proposed regional free trade agreement being negotiated by the U.S., Canada and Mexico with several nations in the Asia-Pacific region, including: Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
Iowa Cattlemen’s Association president Ed Greiman, of Garner, says they pushed the ambassador on further opening the market for beef in southeast Asia.
“One of the biggest things we talked to him about was TPP, the Asian trade,” Greiman says. “We’ve got to get rid of those tariffs and the ban. The other thing I really pushed on him was China. We know if we ever opened up that door, I’d hate to speculate what the cattle market would do. I asked him if that was possible and he said it actually is.”
Froman also talked about the Russian ban of all U.S. ag products and says the market impact is negligible. “It’s unfortunate that they decided to go down this path,” Froman says. “It further isolates them internationally. It won’t affect us that much. It affects, we think, less than one-half of one-percent of our ag exports, but it’s already having an effect on prices in Russia. Prices are going up there. It’s going to damage the purchasing power of their own people.”
He believes Russia is using the ban as an excuse as the U.S. has had ongoing issues with that nation, including the recent unrest in Ukraine.
(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)