Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says Japan’s farmers are “nervous” about a proposed “Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Northey has been in Japan this week to attend the Midwest U.S./Japan Association’s annual meeting. Northey says many Japanese believe this past weekend’s announcement that Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics could speed up negotiations over the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” trade agreement.
“The manufacturing segment and certainly most of the folks who are here at this meeting are very, very supportive of it and most of the U.S. folks are,” Northey says, “and there was a belief that Olympic announcement and the changes in the economy here offers some momentum to really encourage more trade.”
A dozen nations in eastern Asia and the Pacific Rim, including the U.S., began negotiations for a “Trans-Pacific Partnership” free trade agreement in 2008. The 19th round of negotiations wrapped up in August and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says it’s something he supports.
“We think it could be a very positive thing to break down trade barriers and increase trade,” Branstad says. “By the way, this year so far in 2013 our exports to Japan already have exceeded all of what we did in 2012.”
Japanese farm groups oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement because it would end tariffs on commodities imported into Japan. This past March about four-thousand Japanese farmers gathered in a Tokyo park to protest their country’s participation in the trade talks.Japan currently charges tariffs on the import of rice, wheat, dairy products, beef and pork.