The U.S. formally announced it will seek trade agreements with Japan, the European Union and the United Kingdom. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced this week that the U.S. will seek to negotiate three separate trade agreements with Japan, the EU and the U.K. The European Union has downplayed the announcement, despite ongoing exploratory talks since this summer. The EU has previously stated that agriculture would not be negotiated in any free trade agreement with the United States. However, in the announcement, Lighthizer says he is committed to negotiating “with timely and substantive results for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.”
The Trump administration intends to negotiate the trade agreements under Trade Promotion Authority, which allows for a simple yes or no approval by Congress, without amendments. U.S. goods and services trade with the EU totaled nearly $1.2 trillion in 2017, while trade with Japan totaled an estimated $283.6 billion in 2017.
Representatives of the U.S. pork industry say, “we’ve got the momentum on trade headed in the right direction.” National Pork Producers Council President Jim Heimerl stated, “pork producers are hurting because of retaliatory tariffs on pork,” but says their patience is starting to pay off. Heimerl’s comments followed the formal announcement that the U.S. is seeking new free trade agreements with the EU, Japan and the UK. That announcement follows the recent completion of negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, now named the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement, if approved.
Between the USMCA and the recently updated agreement with South Korea, NPPC points out that the administration has maintained the U.S. pork industry’s zero-tariff access to three of the top five destinations for U.S. pork exports. However, NPPC notes, that while the organization is open to trade negotiations with the United Kingdom, it is skeptical about EU intentions. Heimerl says “The EU has played the United States like a drum in the past,” adding that NPPC expects the U.S. to require the EU to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork.
Source: NAFB News Service