ASA, NOPA Partner on Letter to Ambassador Froman, Secretary Vilsack on TPP

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, ASA and the National Oilseed Processors Association reinforced the soy industry’s priorities in the ongoing Trans‐Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations. ASA CEO Steve Censky and NOPA President Tom Hammer restated their support for the agreement, but expressed dismay that at recent reports that the agreement may fall short of its original goals, especially with respect to market access for agricultural products.

On the subject, Censky and Hammer raised particular issue with recent demands from Japan for special exceptions and protections for what it calls sensitive agricultural products. “Each TPP country must be willing to put all products on the table and agree to eliminate all tariffs and other trade barriers over a reasonable transition period,” said the two leaders. “If exceptions are permitted for any nation, others will demand exceptions for their sensitive products and a comprehensive agreement will be lost.”

Censky and Hammer also noted the industry’s support for the TPP’s handling of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS), and called for both a dispute settlement mechanism and a Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) to address shipment‐specific impediments to trade in perishable and time‐sensitive agricultural products.

“The U.S. soy industry has supported all recent U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs) and has worked actively to ensure their approval by Congress,” they added. “We are pleased to support agreements that are comprehensive in product coverage and eliminate tariffs and other import barriers. Our FTAs have been as close to full free trade deals as any in the world. The TPP must include comprehensive liberalization in the agriculture sector, including by Japan, and must address the other important issues outlined above. If such an outcome cannot be reached, it is unlikely that we could support TPP.

“Most importantly, if Japan is unwilling to offer comprehensive trade liberalization,” Censky and Hammer continued, “we recommend that the U.S. and other participating countries give serious consideration to concluding the agreement without Japan, with the hope that Japan will be in a better position to undertake the necessary commitments when a second round of negotiations is launched with a new group of nations desiring TPP membership.”

Click here to read the entire letter.