President Trump is asking Japan to purchase U.S. farm products as the two nations seek a small trade deal including agriculture. Trump asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to buy a “huge amount” of U.S. wheat and soybeans as the negotiations continue, according to Reuters. Japan and the United States are targeting an agreement by September on trade issues, including tariffs on U.S. beef and the automobile sector. Trump has made a similar request of China as part of the talks around the trade war between the U.S. and China. A Japan deal would be welcomed by U.S. agriculture, disadvantaged in the market as competitors enjoy smaller tariffs.
The off-balance tariffs stem from Trump removing the U.S. from the then-called Trans-Pacific Partnership. The U.S. Meat Export Federation says sales have remained strong, considering the higher tariffs. Sales figures remain flat, but not losing market share is positive. Japan represents a significant opportunity for U.S. beef exports, if the tariffs are reduced.
Speaking to a group in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Trump spoke about trade with Japan and delivered remarks that the National Wheat Growers Association said, “directly discounted the importance of wheat exports to the market.”
Trump said, “Many car plants — they’re coming in from Japan. I told Prime Minister Abe — great guy. I said, ‘Listen, we have a massive deficit with Japan.’ They send thousands and thousands — millions — of cars. We send them wheat. Wheat. (Laughter.) That’s not a good deal. And they don’t even want our wheat. They do it because they want us to at least feel that we’re okay. You know, they do it to make us feel good.”
NWGA responded with the following tweet.
.@realDonaldTrump Mr. President, Japan is the #1 market for US wheat exports on average, where we hold just over 50% of the market. They don’t buy our wheat because “they want us to feel okay.” They buy it because it’s the highest quality wheat in the world. That’s not fake news.
— NAWG (@wheatworld) August 14, 2019