March 29, 2013
In a letter sent to President Obama and to the Hill, 75 food and agriculture organizations expressed support for the entry of Japan into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
"The addition of Japan to the negotiations will exponentially increase the importance of the TPP to U.S. farmers and ranchers, processors and exporters as well as other sectors of the U.S. economy. Furthermore, it will spur interest in the TPP among other countries in Asia and Latin America. Finally, it will send a strong signal to other nations that efforts to negotiate more open and transparent regional trading arrangements will continue, even as multilateral efforts to do so are stymied," the letter stated.
Japan's economy is second only to China's in the region, and it is the fourth largest agricultural export market to the United States overall, despite maintaining very substantial import barriers. U.S. food and agricultural exports to Japan in 2012 totaled $13.5 billion.
American Sheep Industry Association executive director, Peter Orwick, remarked, "The association views Japan's entry into the TPP as a critical opportunity to reopen that market to American lamb. Lamb exports to Japan were lost as collateral damage of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy situation in 2003. We need lamb trade prioritized by the U.S. Congress and the federal trade officials to get American lamb allowed in international trade beyond North America.
"We are pleased that Japan has embraced the opportunity to join the TPP. Moreover, we are very encouraged by the joint statement of the United States and Japan issued by the White House Office of the Press Secretary on Feb. 22 stating 'The two governments confirm that should Japan participate in the TPP negotiations, all goods would be subject to negotiation, and Japan would join others in achieving a comprehensive, high-standard agreement, as described in the outlines of the TPP agreement announced by TPP leaders on Nov. 12, 2011,'" Orwick concluded.