Time to Turn Heat Up on Trade Talks with Japan, Bacus Says It's Been on the Backburner Too LongWed, 15 May 2019 09:51:15 CDT
There is a lot of frustration stemming from multiple fronts currently in the US agricultural industry, especially for the beef and cattle sector. A major source of that frustration relates to Japan and the waiting game it seems the US has found itself in in regard to negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with the island nation since the Trump Administration pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. According to Kent Bacus, senior director of international trade and market access for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, other trade pact negotiations have consumed our government’s attention and caused Japan to be placed on the backburner for the time being. He told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays this week during the Washington Watch event in DC hosted annually by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, that Japan is our most important market and needs to be addressed as soon as possible before TPP competitors outpace us in their marketplace.
“Japan is our most important export market. It’s a $2 billion market for us - 25 percent of our annual beef sales go into this one market, so it’s huge,” Bacus said. “We still face the 38.5 percent tariff though and that’s why that Japan bilateral is a priority for us. China is kind of sucking the air out of the room, right now. We’re trying to move forward with the USMCA trying to get that through Congress - but Japan is waiting.”
According to Bacus, the initial stage of negotiations with Japan has in fact already started. In his mind, the US has actually already made a lot of headway in this effort having previously walked through TPP negotiation - though he says the bilateral will probably not be a rubber stamp of the multinational treaty. While there will certainly have to be further negotiation, Bacus says the good news is that both countries are willing to come to the table and have those difficult conversations; both wanting increased access to each other’s markets.
“For the beef industry this is a big opportunity, but if we don’t move soon then it’s going to be hard for us to remain competitive in that market,” he said. “We need the best deal possible, something that’s going to benefit our producers in the long term. If we want to keep cattle and beef prices strong and really capitalize on the growth in beef demand in Asia - we’ve got to start with Japan and then we’ve got to move to a lot of other markets - because we’re not the only people competing for these consumers.”
Listen to Bacus talk more about the opportunities that lie in wait with Japan, plus his outlook on the performance of South Korea’s market as well, on today’s Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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